Friday, June 10, 2005

One of these book meme thingys

From Chris Dillow. I'm completely crap at these things but I'll give it a go:

Number of books I own - I've no idea - a couple of hundred, I think. Like my CDs and videos, my book collection fell victim to the most radical property-reduction mechanism known to man: divorce.

Last book I bought - The Plot Against America, by Phillip Roth. Amazing, absolutely brilliant. If you haven't read any of the stuff that Roth's been producing in the last few years, rectify this now. Extraordinary.

Last book I re-read - This was difficult; I'm not one for re-reading books or watching films over and over. I think the last book I re-read was The Catcher in the Rye - and that was a few years ago.

Five books that mean a lot to me - Argh! I'm rubbish at these things at the best of times and I feel I can't compete with people who put books about econometrics on their list. I suppose the books that mean the most to me are the ones that made a big impression on me when I was young.

One of these would be the one I listed as having re-read; The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger. Every maladjusted teenager should read this to know they're not alone. Also brilliantly funny.

1984, by George Orwell. Absolute power corrupting absolutely in a dystopian near-future. The best critique of totalitarianism in the history of the world - ever. I love Orwell's distinctively British pessimistic socialism.

The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. I read this around about the same time as the above two. Wrongly described as "Calvinistic", Golding's take on the human condition strikes chords and rings bells down the generations.

Reflections on the French Revolution, by Edmund Burke. I was brought up in a household where the assumption was that conservatives were conservative because they were either stupid or mean or both. Reflections helped me hear the liberal voice of British conservatism for the first time - and I think my understanding of conservatism in general improved immeasurably. As Conor Cruise O'Brien points out in his excellent introduction to the Penguin version, conservatives will often read Marx in the interests of understanding what their political opponents are thinking; it is to their loss that socialists are rarely acquainted with the key texts of conservatism such as this.

Herzog, by Saul Bellow. Extraordinary, beautiful - surely a contender for the great 20th century novel? Lines and paragraphs that leave you breathless. Heart-breaking, funny and true observations on this world of ours - especially for those of us who, like Herzog, have had the soul-tearing experience of separating from the mother of our children.

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