It appears that I’ve been “tagged” (not in the cool, web 2.0ey sense of the word, but rather the lame chain-letter equivalent used in blogging – not that I mind, though) for a book meme.
- One book that changed your life
This might seem lame to some, but Lightning, by Dean Koontz was one of the first books that I ever read for pleasure. I was about 14 years old, and grounded (for reasons I won’t get into), and my brother had given me this book to read. I was skeptical, of course. The suggestion to read for pleasure was scandalous. I mean, come on, that’s something they force you to do in school, not something you spend precious spare time on! At some point, I got around to picking it up and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. I read the whole thing in about two days, then moved on to the rest of Koontz’s catalog, eventually branching out to other authors and genres (Asimov was also a notable influence in my early reading days). In any case, I hold this book responsible for all the reading I have done since, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Koontz (even if I don’t find his stuff as enjoyable these days – perhaps a topic for another post).
- One book that you’ve read more than once
Well, I could mention Lightning again here (while still gripping and entertaining, it was, alas, not as good as I had rememberd it – the difference between a 14 year old and a 23 year old, I guess), but I assume the point of this is not to repeat myself… So I think the most impressive book I’ve reread is Neal Stephenson’s brilliant Cryptonomicon. I read this book a few years ago, then again after I had read the Baroque Cycle. Some might question the wisdom of re-reading a 900 page book after reading it’s 2700 page prequel, but it was actually great. There are tons of subtle references that I hadn’t noticed in the Baroque Cycle (sometimes extremely subtle, but it even to the point of fairly promintent side characters). Interestingly enough, the book was better the second time around,perhaps because of all the small tie-ins with the Baroque Cycle, but also because my focus had changed. When I first read the book, my favorite parts were in the WWII era of the story, but the second reading made me notice more about the present-day era.
- One book you’d want on a desert island
This would depend greatly on the details of said island, but my first instinct was to go all pragmatic and pick a survival book (like Shamus notes, one with pictures and diagrams would be most useful). I assume the real intention here is to name a book that I think is so great that it would allow me to escape my dismal surroundings. I could probably go with any of the aformentioned books (perhaps Cryptonomicon would be ideal, as it’s longer) or perhaps the LotR trilogy (counting that as a single full book).
- One book that made you laugh
Hmm, I’m getting the feeling that it will become more and more difficult to not mention books already mentioned. Both Koontz and Stephenson have keen senses of humor and almost always have things in their books that make me laugh out loud. I think I’ll go with Snow Crash here (though Cryptonomicon is the one that really comes to mind for me…)
- One book that made you cry
Honestly, I can’t think of one. I’m not generally into the sad weepy stories that are likely to make one cry, so I tend to avoid those types of books…
- One book that you wish had been written
I think this is the toughest question on the list because, you know, I haven’t really read many books in the grand scheme of things. There are plenty of books I’m waiting for, but the form of this question implies books that won’t be written (perhaps because the desired author is dead, etc…) not books that haven’t been written yet. I’ve looked around at others who participated in the meme and mostly what I see are humorous or clever answers. Eh, how about the The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, Explained So You May Understand It (yes, yes, I know, 42. Thanks a lot.).
- One book that you wish had never been written
The obvious answer is, of course, Mein Kampf. There’s also some others like perhaps Protocols of the Elders of Zion (hmmm, catching a trend here?) or perhaps the entire political commentary rack at the local bookstore… but in reality, I find it hard to wish anything hadn’t been written. I’m just not the censoring type, I guess, and I value freedom of speech enough to put up with stuff I don’t like.
- One book you’re currently reading
The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi. Heinein-inspired military sci-fi, and it’s pretty entertaining too (though not as good so far as the first in the series, Old Man’s War, which I’ll eventually get around to posting about one of these days).
- One book you’ve been meaning to read
Well, this is quite a long list, but if I make the criteria dependent on actually owning the book but not having read it, I’ll have to go with Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’ve heard good things and bad things, and it’s sat on my shelf for a few years now. It’s quite a hefty book, which doesn’t normally bother me, but considering that a lot of people seem to think the book is a clever exercise in literary style, I’m not sure I’m all that excited (at least, not for 1000 pages of it). Really, it just seems like there’s always something more interesting also on my shelf…
- Tag 5 people
I’m not sure I know 5 other bloggers to tag that would bother to respond (and one of them tagged me, so that narrows it down further), so instead, I’ll just comdemn the practice of “tagging” (in the bloggers equivalent of chain letter sense) in a self righteous manner, thus proving my superiority to the rest of the blogging world. Or something.
Seriously though, if you’re a blogger and you want to participate, go right ahead:) If you’re not a blogger, feel free to leave your answers in the comments…
That’s all for now. I know I mentioned last week that I’d post more, but I never got around to it. Apologies for the lameness lately, I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon…