Books, glorious books!

I lifted this meme from HeartsinSanFrancisco who, like me, doesn’t seem to like tagging people. But this is a good meme, so I tagged myself for it, and I encourage everyone else out there to do likewise.

This meme is about books; those glorious tomes of stacked paper filled with the wisdom, knowledge, fantasies, and dreams of uncountable minds. Oh, the minds that these books contain! How glorious it is to touch the words of these minds, to see what they have thought and dreamt. To be, for that one instant–that one eternity–a part of that soul that birthed those words.

Reading is my life. I love to read. Always have, always will.

1. How many books do you own?
I’ve owned thousands over the course of my life, but my collection routinely goes through a purge every year or so to make room for the new books I will undoubtedly purchase. At this time, I probably own a couple hundred, half in boxes in my closet, and the other half on shelves. Brian owns roughly the same, but they are all on shelves, proudly displayed. All together, it adds up to about 500 books in our little two room apartment.

2. What was the last book you read?
The last book I read cover to cover was Mercedes Lackey’s Fortune’s Fool two weeks ago. I am now currently half-way through Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion. I quite like it, though it is a times a bit shrill.

3. What was the last book you bought?
Oh gosh, I can’t remember! Its been a while since I bought a book, as I am funnelling all my cash into my credit cards now…but looking through my collection, I think the last one I bought was Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage. An enjoyable read; looking forward to the sequel.

4. Five meaningful books that you’ve read:
This is a extraordinarily difficult question to answer. The books listed in my sidebar are some of the most revelatory books I’ve enjoyed, but I’m not so sure that’s the meaning of “meaningful” that this question intends. For my purposes, I will define “meaningful” here as those books that

  • nurtured my passion for reading
  • contributed to my development as an adult
  • changed my perspective on life

With that in mind, I’d have to list the following books as the ones that fit all three criteria:

  1. The Berenstein Bears: (@ 4-6 years old)I was obsessed with this series as a child. I would read every book repeatedly and religiously. I went through an audio book phase at this time and I would follow the narrator through the books. This taught me how to listen and to pace myself as I talked. These books helped teach me to love reading for reading’s sake.
  2. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn: (@ 20 years old) this book defies description. Its a little bit of everything: some fiction, some history, some anthropology and lots of philosophy and social criticism. It clarified a lot of confused thinking and revealed insights I never had considered before. It literally changed much of the way I think about our world. And as a bonus, it was a fun read.
  3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein: (@ 10yrs old) This is the book that introduced me to my enduring literary love: Fantasy. From that point on I would read almost nothing but fantasy. This book instilled in me the desire to write my own Hobbit someday. Only in recent years have I begun branching into non-fiction–and that mostly due to the influence of Ishmael.
  4. Art & Fear by Dave Orland and Ted Bales: (@ 22 years old) A book for artists of all kinds. about creativity, artmaking, and finding the strength to continue on for passion’s sake. Reading this always lifts me up out of creative frustration and despair.
  5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hogdson Burnett: (@ 11 years old) I intitally resisted this book. It was a gift to me from my mother, and I resented the obligation to read something I wasn’t remotely interested in at that time (because I knew better than other people what I would like!). But when I read this book, I was enchanted and I realized then, that experimenting with weird-looking stuff was actually a good thing, and that other people just might have good ideas every once in a while, and that everything deserves a chance. That lesson has carried on with me throughout my life, not just in reading, but in food, drink, activities, sex, and so on. I am bold and fearless with new things because of The Secret Garden.

Well, as Hearts said: “I am supposed to choose others to do this exercise, but I’m not going to tag anyone. If you feel inclined, please do it and let me know so I can read your selections. Thank you.”

8 thoughts on “Books, glorious books!

  1. Great and thoughtful list, Rachel. I must find a copy of Art & Fear, which I have never heard of but would probably love, so thank you for that.

    The Secret Garden was indeed charming. As a child, I read mostly the adult classics, but also loved anything with beautiful illustrations like Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire.

    Thank you for doing this exercise, and for inviting me to read it.

  2. Hearts: Thank you for providing it to me! I recommend Art & Fear to everyone with even the slightest creative inclination–its that useful and that widely-based.

  3. this is great. i’ll save it for a time when i’m idea-less 🙂

    j.r.r. tolkein is one of my all-time favorite authors 🙂

  4. Puss! Thank you, you are entirely too good to my ego!

    Bob: “the hobbit” kinda defies age categorization. Some groups rate it for children 7 and older and others for young teens 12 and up. Myself, at the time I read it, I so enjoyed it because it was fun, humorous, and exciting, with a slight touch of tension and anxiety. Emotionally, it was comfortable, but in terms of readability and intelligence, I could have read it at 8.

    I confess I never read “dr. Dolittle”! I should probably rectify that oversight.

    Martha: and I hope I can use your reading list to get ideas for my next jaunt to the library!

  5. I read the Hobbit at 10 as well. It fueled my itty bitty flame for reading. Before that, I had no interest. This is a great list and obviously talented at the written word yourself. As an adult, I don’t know what I’d do if it weren’t for all the great books I’ve read.

  6. I read the Hobbit at 10 as well. It fueled my itty bitty flame for reading. Before that, I had no interest. This is a great list and obviously talented at the written word yourself. As an adult, I don’t know what I’d do if it weren’t for all the great books I’ve read.

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