Biblioblogging

Daniel Larison has tagged me for a books meme that’s been making the rounds. So here we go:

1.) One book that has changed your life?

The Twilight of Authority, the first book by Robert Nisbet that I read.

2.) One book that you have read more than once?

An important one is Red Planet by Robert Heinlein, the first book I ever read.

3.) One book you would want on a desert island?

I’m tempted to say The Odyssey, but the spirit moves me to say Don Quixote instead.

4.) One book that made you cry?

Deliver Us From Evil by Sean Hannity. I regularly weep at what makes the bestseller lists.

5.) One book that made you laugh?

The Diaries of Auberon Waugh

6.) One book you wish had been written?

My Life As Author and Editor by H.L. Mencken. The book we have by that title is drawn from his unfinished manuscript, which breaks off before the launch of The American Mercury.

7.) One book you wish had never been written?

Joyce’s Ulysses, the book that launched a thousand (or rather, a thousand thousand) pseuds.

8.) One book you’re currently reading?

Academic Freedom by Russell Kirk

9.) One book you’ve been meaning to read?

The Borzoi Turgenev, which has been sitting on my shelf for a year or so, untouched.

10.) Pass it on.

I’ll tag Jesse Walker, who may be too busy for this sort of thing; R.J. Stove, who’s welcome to reply in the comments section here since his own site isn’t a blog; and my old friend from college Matt Cole.

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8 thoughts on “Biblioblogging

  1. Scott Lahti September 29, 2006 / 3:41 am

    1. How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World by Harry Browne (1933-2006). You are unique – just like everybody else.
    2. The New Patricians by R.W.K. Paterson. Stirner scholar’s summons to sterner gentlemen.
    3. How to Fashion a Self-Propelled Perpetual-Motion Leak-Shark-and-Waveproof Boat With Pantry and Outhouse Out of Sand and Salt Water With No Effort.
    4. Controversy and Other Essays in Journalism, 1950-1975 by William Manchester. Read “My Old Man,” on reading to Manchester’s First Lion – Mencken – in winter, then losing him to the Typewriter Eternal.
    5. The Impossible H.L. Mencken, edited by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. The manual typewriter, ceiling fan, BVDs and Uncle Willies as Platonic ribticklers.
    6. My Unambiguous and Universal Guide to Instant and Eternal Bliss, with Proof of My Existence by The One in The Many.
    7. The Book of Genesis. It’s all downhill from there – and who feels like performing after a hotdog opener like that?
    8. MANAS, the full 41-year (1948-1988) free online archive. The most literate and prophetic one-man humanist weekly you’ve never heard of. Till now.
    9. The Book of Love. Still we wonder after its author, and who wants to read it knowing how it ends – in heartbreak upon every read?
    10. I would if I knew any – I believe the kids call them “bloggers.”

  2. Daniel McCarthy September 29, 2006 / 6:20 am

    I should read the Browne book for good measure, since it’s been an influence on a great many people. I can well imagine that Manchester’s essay on Mencken is moving; if I recall correctly, Marion Rodgers’s Mencken bio begins with a quote from Manchester, by then a stroke victim himself, looking back on his acquaintance with HLM.

    Other blog readers should consider themselves “tagged” as well, if they’re so inclined.

  3. R J Stove September 29, 2006 / 8:22 am

    One of the few nice things about having been, intellectually speaking, a very late developer – I was more or less a retard during my school and
    undergraduate years – is this: now that I have a few brains, I’m constantly coming across books which change my life. Those books are ones that I was simply too half-witted to read at an age when most people first come across them. So, to answer your questions, Dan:

    (1) Life-changers:

    (a) The first-ever collection I encountered of Chesterton’s essays (a nondescript little volume with a red cover, introduced by someone called John Green, otherwise unknown to me). Though I’ve read lots of GKC since then, and have loved most of it, none of it has had quite the impact of that first collection.

    (b) Screwtape. Couldn’t possibly leave that off my list.

    (c) Belloc’s Survivals and New Arrivals (an all-too-recent discovery on my part).

    (d) Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West. (Haven’t read State of Emergency yet, save in excerpt form, but I greatly want to do so.)

    (2) Re-reading: I’m always re-reading books, even the sort of crime novels where I could guess the murderer’s identity on about page 7 the first time around.

    (3) Desert island choice: Probably a desert island would be the one habitat where I could actually abide by the commands made in The Imitation of Christ, so I guess my choice would need to be that book.

    (4) Making me cry: In terms of tragic grandeur, Robertson Davies’s almost unbearably poignant Cornish Trilogy would be my choice. In terms of weeping with disgust at a book’s fatuity, Manning Clark’s Marxisant History of Australia – six volumes of error-laden conjecture in a sham-biblical prose which gained for its author an entirely factitious reputation as, if you please, a stylist – is an invariably successful assault on my tear-ducts.

    (5) Making me laugh: Any novel by P. G. Wodehouse. Any novel by Nancy Mitford. Any short story by Saki. Any travelogue by the Cold-War-era P. J. O’Rourke (his later writing appeals to me much less).

    (6) Unwritten book that should’ve been written: Max Beerbohm’s History of Australia. It would’ve been unfailingly beautiful in its prose, unfailingly accurate in its observations, and – unlike the Manning Clark horror (see above) – it would have fitted onto about 40 pages.

    (7) Book I wish hadn’t been written: Oh man, where do we start? Ulysses, of course. Finnegans Wake, natch. Manning Clark’s output (do you detect a note of obsessiveness on this topic?). The collected novels of Patrick White, Australia’s first (and, God willing, last) Nobel literature laureate. Norman Lebrecht’s exercises in smart-aleck tabloid bilge dressed up as serious musicological comment. Anything with Daniel Goldhagen’s name on the cover. Anything with Tom Keneally’s name on the cover. Call me back in about 20 years and I might’ve whittled down my list to manageable proportions.

    (8) Book I’m currently reading: In my case, re-reading: Vance Packard’s The Status Seekers (1959). I’m always a sucker for analyses of class structures (when carried out by non-Marxists, that is) and this book contains some great anecdotes.

    (9) Book I’m meaning to read: Virtually the whole of the Western canon. I’m ashamed at how few Great Books I’ve actually read, as distinct from vaguely heard of. But in lieu of such books, I’m looking forward, as mentioned earlier, to the new Buchanan tome.

    (10) Pass it on. OK, I’ll see if I can find a suitable target who hasn’t already read this particular site.

    Best, RJS

  4. Matthew September 29, 2006 / 5:20 pm

    I put up a post today – thanks Dan. I managed to include St. Augustine, Chesterton, Toni Morrison, and the Alphabet of Manliness all in the same post.

  5. Marcus Epstein October 2, 2006 / 2:14 am

    1.) Although not the deepest book, Alien Nation by Peter Brimelow definitely changed the direction of what I was interested in politically wise and now that seems to be what I’m doing for a living now, so I guess that counts
    2.) I don’t think I’ve read any book twice since I was young and would reread Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. I’ve probably reread a bunch of Junk John Grisham novels when I’ve rented out some shorehouse and that’s all that’s their
    3.) The Worst Case Scenario guide–I Never thought of tying rags around my ankles and walking through the dew to collect freshwater.
    4.) PJB’s State of Emergenccy didn’t make me Cry, but it made me depressed and angry.
    5.) The last Gentleman by Walker Percy–
    6.) The autobiography of Malcolm X
    7.) Atlas Shrugged, no explanation needed
    8.) TV guide
    9.) Virginia Abernethy’s Population Politics
    10.) Now that I think of it, Pay it forward made me cry.

  6. Marcus Epstein October 2, 2006 / 2:14 am

    yes I see I put “their” instead of “there”

  7. Daniel McCarthy October 2, 2006 / 7:02 am

    Michael Novak’s Unmeltable Ethnics was a book that influenced my thinking about immigration and ethnicity — not in the way Novak, who was a left-wing ethnic agitator at the time — would have wanted. Novak extols Eastern and Southern Europeans and execrates Germans, Englishmen, and Irishmen (whom he thinks too English!), all of whom are rationalistic ice people in his view. It made me think how much I like ice people — I can relate to Swift’s Houyhnhnms. All my bloodlines are the ones Novak hates, probably including my plains Indian blood. I suspect the South American Indians would be the ones Novak would find suitably “ethnic” for his tastes.

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