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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Words, Words, Words...

"There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." - Bertrand Russell

Number of Books That You Own: Who knows... the "3 for 2" offers in major British bookstores have played some role in bankrupting me over the course of this year. I buy books in abundance and have a tough time parting with them. I even steal ancient books from bars for no reason. I hope to write one or two. If forced to guess, I'd say I own about 500 or so, about 50 here and many more boxed away safely in the parent's basement until that great day when I open a pub/inn/used bookstore.

Last Book(s) Bought: Two on a whim, from the Oxfam shop on my birthday - Cakes and Ale, by W. Somerset Maughm and the Tao Te Ching.

Last Book I Read: The Best of Saki, a compilation of short stories borrowed from Mr. Gartner. Check out "The Mappined Life" for a deft explanation of our constant obsession with random exploration of the Road.

Five Books that mean a lot to me: Surely the stumbling block for my timely response to this question. In some ways this is like trying to "name 5 friends that mean a lot to you". That said, upon reflection:

(1) When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne. [though the entire canon of both Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl belong right alongside it] One of the earliest books I can remember. Magical. I haven't looked at it in who knows how long, but still know the opening verse of poems such as Disobedience by heart.

(2) Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. [though the Three Musketeers saga of Dumas that actually spans 5 wonderful volumes deserves a most honourable mention] Surely my favorite story of all:

"In I got bodily into the apple barrel, and found there was scarce an apple left; but sitting down there in the dark, what with the sound of the waters and the rocking movement of the ship, I had either fallen asleep or was on the point of doing so when a heavy man sat down with rather a clash close by. The barrel shook as he leaned his shoulders against it, and I was just about to jump up when the man began to speak. It was Silver's voice, and before I had heard a dozen words, I would not have shown myself for all the world, but lay there, trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity, for from these dozen words I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended upon me alone."

Have I ever been more excited to read a book's next chapter?

(3) Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. A steady companion these past 5 or so years in the side pouch of my rugged and much abused backpack. My copy has the mugshot of our smiling old bearded wise man on the cover, and ample doses of his spirit within. Absolute favorites include Song of the Open Road, O Me! O Life!, When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer, and So Long ["Camerado! This is no book; Who touches this, touches a man"], but it sometimes just as comforting to open it at random and read aloud.

(4) On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. A cliched choice? Maybe. But I read it for the first time at the very beginning of my discovery of the beauty in traveling/living randomly, coarsely, cheaply, intoxicated by the sheer freedom, joy, and tragic sadness of the rambler and what must be left behind... it has and will always serve as an inspiration. How do you beat simple quotes such as this: "A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world."

(5) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The desert island selection. Regular readers of this blog should not be surprised. Master Will has been a worthy companion for this year abroad. 15 of his plays seen thus far and a few more to come beginning before heading home, starting with another unknown (to me) this Monday: Cymbeline. No idea where the green cinder block of a book I have at home came from, or when I first started worshiping unconditionally at this alter, but perhaps it's best that way.

Since most others have already been tagged, it is down to you Cooper. You going to put Moneyball on your list?

2 Comments:

Blogger Tim R. A. Cooper said...

Great call on 'Treasure Island.' But no Roald Dahl?

1:00 PM  
Blogger Tim R. A. Cooper said...

Whoops...caught it now.

1:01 PM  

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