Monday, September 17, 2007


Well, it had to happen. After all that relative anonymity of the internet, I got tagged. Fortunately, it is not like getting tagged by wildlife biologists --- no tranquilizer darts or anything like that!
No, I've been tagged by the gentle Gautami, of My Own Little Reading Room.

My reading: My reading has all but vanished in the past few years: since the children came on the scene (Boo in 02, Skibo in 04) I have found that reading for my own pleasure has become rarer and rarer. It may also have something to do with aging eyes: I now have to wear reading glasses for close work, and half of the time don't seem to have a pair handy!
That said, I still read stuff for work (and it may be terribly boring to many people, but I can find poetry in the way some people write about my subject!) Since there are lots of excellent books being written for a scientifically literate but non-professional audience these days, there are a number of good things to read in that realm too.
When I read other things, it is a mixture mainly of fiction (mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and whatever category Harry Potter etc fall into), non-fiction political (mainly a leftwing perspective, so as not to elevate bloodpressure), and especially cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks: dipping into a recipe here and there, constructing it in my head. It will take me days, weeks or months to actually have the courage to try something new, sometimes, but I have lots of fun with it in my head first!

Total number of books owned:
I have no good idea. At least a thousand. Probably less than five thousand. All our bookshelves are at least triple stacked: we had about a thousand books when we moved here ten years ago, and have bought a lot since then. If I had to guess, I'd say perhaps three thousand. I've read about three quarters of them.

Last book bought:
I bought five at once:
- the Caleb Carr mystery The Italian Secretary, commissioned by the Conan Doyle estate.
- The Silver Palate Cookbook
- A bread book, a book on italian cooking and a book on how to make your own liqueurs. These were all bought at my local used bookstore, and hence were very reasonably priced.

Last book read:
The Golden Compass (aka The Northern Lights, a title which makes much more sense to me!) by Philip Pullman. For some reason, I am finding it much harder to get into the sequel, The Subtle Knife than I did the first book.
I'm currently reading The Subtle Knife, as well as several techical texts.

Five meaningful books:
as Gautami said, five is far too few for this category, so I will try to list five categories, and at least one (and not too many more) in each category. And by meaningful, I mean that these books were important in terms of how I became the person I became: your mileage may, of course, vary:-) My usage of importance here reflects the postmodernist view that a book can only be understood in the context of the reader, and it surprises me to find myself saying that!
1. For children and grownups, fiction: The Little Prince, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Illusions, the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
2. For grownups, farce: Will Sharpe's books, John Irving's earlier books
3. For grownups, more serious fare: Godel, Escher, Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. These two books I read in the same month in 1981: and while I subsequently found lots to differ with, I still think that they are brilliant books. Often wrong, but still brilliant.
4. For the sheer beauty of the writing on a technical subject: Feynman's Lectures on Physics, Korner's Fourier Analysis and Conway's The Sensuous Quadratic Form.
5. Poetry, because I love to read it to the children: Eliot's much maligned but still lyrical Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (because the children ask for poems from it every night), Don Marquis' archy and mehitabel.

I'm tagging:
to my friends whom I have tagged, if you choose not to spend the time doing this, be assured I won't be insulted. To the friends I didn't name, please feel free to consider yourself tagged, and let me know you are doing it!
Cornish Dreamer
Written Inc.
The Magpie Files

All those tagged can tag 5 people each. Leave a comment on the tagees blog letting them know they have been tagged, and link from your blog to theirs so I can get nosy too!

Yours, as read.


gautami tripathy said...

Thanks for doing this meme. I tagged you as I somehow deduced that you love reading.

I especially liked the way you categorised instead of lisiting 5 books.

Such memes do give us certain insights about our blogger friends.

Awareness said...

okey dokey!

I'm intrigued by some of your picks.....John Irving is my hero. I want him to be my mentor. I do think I have a "Garp" in me. And Owen Meaney? One of my all time favourite books.......oops, Im giving it all away.......

stop over in about an hour and I will have my post up.


Rebecca Taunton said...

Thanks for tagging me N! I'll do this meme later today.

it certainly sounds like you have a lot of books. It puts my small collection to shame. Hmm, a great excuse to buy some more then.