Book tag


It's meme month. First the musical baton and now here's a bookish list that's payback from my sister.

  1. Total number of books I own: I recently pared down quite a bit as they overflowed the space where I keep them. I now have about 200 books which still overflow but not into so many untidy piles.
  2. Last book I bought:
    The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie, a delightful little book about mathematics and necktie knots written by a pair of theoretical physicists. I'm still learning to knot the best of the 85.
  3. Last book I read:
    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

    (Currently I'm reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I read it last week, decided it was a good read-aloud book and now I'm reading it to Tod.)

  4. Five books that have been meaningful to me:

    • The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll with annotations by Martin Gardner. This was the first edition that I read when I was 8 or 9--talk about opening up the back door into literature at an early age. I can't read Alice in Wonderland without Gardner's notes popping into my head.

    • The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. Something about this book makes me read it over and over. The nanotechnology, the story, the strong female characters, the way the plot tangles and dissolves at the end. Haven't found a Stephenson novel I didn't like, but this one resonates.

    • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. This is one of the few novels my parents did not allow me to read as a voracious teenaged consumer of books. So of course I read it as soon as I could but sometimes I wish I hadn't.

    • Cyclopedia by an unknown editorial board. It has a longer title, but the book is long gone, I'm afraid. It was written in 1902 as a one-volume collection of household tips, recipes, information on sewing, planting gardens, how to write thank you notes, the language of flowers, particulars of etiquette, parlor games and more.

    • Henley's Formulas edited by Gardner D. Hiscox. This book was my father's. It is reprint of a 1927 edition that contains 10,000 formulas for everything from adhesives to perfumes. If I ever want to create fireworks, sewing machine oil, cream soda, or my own photographic paper, I can.

  5. Five people I'm tagging:
    Tod (he has no weblog, so he can just tell me over dinner)
    The Zous (they liked the musical baton)
    ...and I think that's enough. But feel free to pick it up if you like.


I've never read Stranger in a Strange Land, but now I will! I taught a session at a conference last week where I found myself telling the attendees about the books mom and dad had. The thousands of books, all available, all the time on those shelves that were everywhere in the house. I read a lot of things I probably shouldn't have either, but I'm glad I did. In fact, I attribute a lot of my writing style to the mixture of what I read as a child from those shelves - Ambrose Bierce, Ogden Nash, the Time Life Origins of Man, Stud's Terkel's Working. Damn, why didn't I include those on my list?

I want Helen to read the Diamond Age someday.

Odd that you mention "Stranger in a Strange Land" because I've been thinking about it these last few months. I first read it 30 years ago and I wanted to see if it held up. But it's not in the library and I haven't found it in any used book stores. So it's amazon for me.

How can a book so famous in its day not be in the library?

Why didn't your parents want you to read it? And was the fact that you read it against their wishes the reason you sometimes wish you hadn't...or was it something about the book itself.

Hey, I randomly chanced upon your blog. :) Are you liking Kafka on the Shore? Murakami is one of my favouite writers! to match the technique, and how superb would university gis it be to have a pop star called Fantasia!),
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