Some books that mean a lot to me, taking another run at a blogging meme from 2005

21.48, Thursday 24 Nov 2022

Hey it’s follow-up week! I’m blogging new words about old posts.

Re: Tom Coates passed me the music baton… (2005).

So waaaaaay back (before you was born, dude, when life was great) blogs used to be social media, like Twitter only less angry, and we had MEMES.

And yes I participated.

That post above is one in which you had to answer:

  • How many books do you own?
  • What is the last book you bought?
  • What is the last book you read?
  • What are 5 books that mean a lot to you?

And then you had to tag in 5 people who also had to answer.

(Actually Tom asked me to do this about music but I did it about books instead.)

You’ll have to follow the link to find out what I said way back in 2005. I haven’t read the post yet. I’m going to answer here, in 2022, then go back and see.

But I’ll be brief because I’m about to have supper.

How many books do you own? I have no idea. Enough that the entire wall is covered in shelves, and another nook, and there are stacks of books I have no room for, and I haven’t read them all (I subscribe to Umberto Eco’s theory that your library should contain what you don’t know). Also I love categorising my books into personal categories and I need a baroque computer vision system to find them, both topics covered here (2020).

What is the last book you bought? The other day I bought the exhibition catalogue for the 2004 Berkeley Art Museum retrospective Ant Farm 1968-1978 (here on Amazon) because I want to read the interview about their architectural sketches for a dolphin embassy, which is extraordinarily deft, as previously discussed, in the service of a new personal project. It hasn’t arrived yet.

What is the last book you read? To Be Taught, If Fortunate: A Novella (Amazon) by Becky Chambers, which like all Becky Chambers is humanist and straightforwardly galactically transporting, and draws pictures of worlds that I’d like to visit and people I’d like to be my friends. Because of somaforming, Chambers’ take on cyborgs, as mentioned earlier.

What are 5 books that mean a lot to you?

Ok I am super intrigued about this. Because I am going to say 5 books at the top of my mind right now and then I am going to go back and read my list from 17 years and see if there are any the same.

I’m not going to be clever-clever about this, or list intellectually formative books, or books I would necessarily recommend. Just ones that, well, mean a lot to me.

So let’s go:

  • Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I can’t emphasise how much the efervescent interconnectedness of threads and conspiracies, fact and fiction and the blurred lines between the two, absolutely enthralled me. Here we are on
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I remember my dad taking me to Foyle’s to buy this, my first science fiction and my first visit to a real bookshop, back when you had to hand the green slip in from the book at one counter and pay at another. I’m not sure I would love Foundation if I encountered it today, in the 2020s, but as a boy in the 80s it gave me vastness, and I still get that sense whenever I pick it up. Besides, my dad, right?
  • Mr Topsy-Turvy by Roger Hargreaves. Basically this guy turns up in town, does everything backwards causing chaos, vanishes, and the town carries on acting that way. I’ve kept it on my shelf for years. I enjoy reading it to my kid. One may only aspire.
  • The Wisden Cricketer’s Almanak. Perhaps it’s cheating to pick a book that comes out every year. Each squat, bright yellow edition is a thousand pages of stats of every first class cricket match played domestically and internationally by teams in England and Wales, plus a few essays thrown in. Another to do with my dad: I inherited his Wisden collection and - belatedly - his love of cricket too, and when I settle down to read each new edition it is the most poignant and the happiest day of my year.

I can’t settle on a fifth. There’s sci-fi like Diaspora (Egan) or Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (Delaney) or Always Coming Home (Le Guin). There’s Hamlet (there’s a ghost! Originally played by Shakespeare!). There’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Bateson) or the I Ching. Or any number of non-fiction books that I turn the page corners over and think about tons but maybe aren’t ones that I would say mean a lot to me in the way I’ve chosen to interpret that today.

Anyway I’m going to pick the graphic novel Sculptor by Scott McCloud, which I’m selecting for reasons that I won’t discuss here.

(Goes back and reads the 2005 post.) Huh, one book the same.

I’m not going to pass the baton to anyone this time around but if you fancy having a go at these questions, and blogging your answers, then please go ahead and do let me know.

Update: THE BOOK MEME, IT INFECTS. i.e. some other people did the thing.

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