How about I poke it?

I have been tagged. No, not as painful as it sounds, though it did cause me to actually use my brain and come up with decent answers for once. I have no objection to responding to it because reading is one thing that I couldn’t do without. I had tried to do something along these lines back on the ‘Holm, but it has fallen on stony ground lately due to 1) no time and 2) the daunting prospect of telling people about the horrendous amount of books I read. On with the show/tig/tag, as requested by JB.1. [Who am I to deny the request of one of my more serendipitous random internet acquaintances?]

1) Total number of books I own:
Because I am a remarkably anal kind of person, and I had nothing to do one summer holiday when I was about 16, I actually made a spreadsheet to contain details of all the books I own.
And reading that sentence back does not make me sound any cooler.
Anyway, it is still going strong and (according to it), I have around 550 books on my shelves 2. [Split between the good old homestead back in Somerset, and here in S’oton.] There are also a good few hundred (I would estimate) in boxes in the loft, mainly books from when I was a kid that I am saving for whatever sprogletts might enter the family. As they won’t be coming from me, that means when my brother gets his act together, my potential nieces/nephews will have a lot to read. I really really dislike getting rid of books, so that number is only going to grow, I am sure.

2) The last book I bought:
Being a student I don’t have all that much cash to spend, so I tend to use the local libraries a lot.
I did just shell out money on “The Long Way Round” by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as a gift for the Crazy Canalman (Farv).
For me, I think it was “The Poet” by Michael Connelly, when I saw a copy going cheap at my favourite local cheap bookstore, in order to feed my Michael Connelly binge. I also recently purchased “Going Postal” by Terry Pratchett, and “The World Since 1945” by T.E. Vadney so I can better understand the historical context behind the sci-fi I read (though the Latvian Lovely has got more use out of it for her Jewish History MA than I have).

3) The last book I read:
In an attempt to make this more representative of my reading tastes, here are the last two I read, one silly, one serious.
“Venus” by Ben Bova – not his best, but still a wonderful romp through space, filling in some of the blanks in what happened to some characters after the Asteroid Wars series.
“Wild Boy” by Jill Dawson – amazing. Woke up saturday morning around 8am, picked it up, started to read, next time I looked at the clock it is 1230, and I’ve finished the book. A tale of a savage ‘wild boy’ found in France just after the Revolution, and how he is looked after by a doctor who, for the time, is enlightened. It is remarkably poignant, especially when it is clear to us, the modern reader, that the boy is autistic not, as the thinkers of the time thought, in some ‘natural’ state that could show them the true nature of humanity. Based on a true story.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me:
Limiting this to five is going to be hard. I wouldn’t say any of these books changed my life, but they are the ones that I will pick up and read again, and again, and again… My desert island books if you will.
(oh and, like JB said, the numbers are not ranking, they’re so I can keep my head straight.)

  1. “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson – either my father or my brother are responsible for this one, for which I am grateful. Impossible to put it into a category but if I had to choose just one book, this would be it. His other works, especially the Baroque Cycle books, are also genius. The man can get ‘bop’ and ‘prod’ into historical novels.
  2. “Neuromancer” by William Gibson – showing my cyber-punk credentials with this one, aren’t I? As with many of the books I read, I have my brother to thank for putting this in my path. That, and a day in Brooklyn when the AC broke down, and it was too hot to do anything other than sit and read.
  3. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley – read this for GCSE english and I am so glad, because it is so good.
  4. “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood – each time I read this, I get something new, and the ending always comes as a surprise. Along with “Handmaid’s Tale”, this is one of Atwood’s best books.
  5. “Hamlet” by Shakespeare – can’t miss the Bard from the list, can we? I can’t put my finger on why, but this is my favourite of his plays. It was also my great aunt’s favourite play, and she was an English teacher for nearly 60 years, so I must have good taste 🙂

If the list is heavily stacked in favour of sci-fi/post-apocalyptical/cyber-punk, then I am sorry… No, I’m not. That’s my taste and I won’t apologize for it. I do read other stuff, but when forced to pick just five, those came to mind first. Some more books I want to share to be found at the ‘Holm book reviews page.

5) Tag five people and have them fill this out on their blogs:
Without doubt the hardest part of this whole process, for I am what might be described as somewhat voyeuristic in my surfing habits. I have lots of blogs that I read on a regular basis, but few I participate in. I can’t tag JB because he tagged me first, so it would have to be:
Moose because she reads a fair bit as well and, since I cracked the footnote problem, I need something else on this blog to annoy her.
Jess if she ever manages to fight free of real life long enough, because I know she liked the Da Vinci Code3[I couldn’t talk about books without at least mentioning it!], and I would like my faith in her good taste restored!
That leaves three. Um, well, if Jason would care to respond, or Jeff4 [At this point it might be wise to inform this individual that he is referred to as ‘Jeff’ on the blog, but since when have I ever been wise?]and the Cute Canadian, then it would be OK. I’d ask the Scouse One, but who knows when he’ll poke his nose into this blog.