15 Things

December 12, 2005

This particular blog-meme is rather less obnoxious than most, since it’s completely free-form. Without further ado, I present 15 things about me and books.

  1. The last book I was assigned to read for class that I actually bothered to read was The Great Gatsby for Mr Sullivan’s American Literature class in the 11th grade. I had intended to just skim the first few chapters so I’d be able to fake my way through the in-class discussions we’d have, but I found myself completely transfixed and unable to put the book down until I finished it.
  2. My approach to books is similar to park ranger advice for wilderness areas—I take only words, and I try to avoid leaving even fingerprints. I don’t like creased spines, dog-eared pages, or wrinkly spots from a sweaty palmprint; and I absolutely cannot stand people who underline passages or, God forbid, lick their grubby fingers every time they turn the page.

    Oddly enough, though, I don’t mind if a book gets a bit mangled or bent from being crammed into an overstuffed backpack or a jacket pocket that doesn’t quite fit, nor do I mind buying used books that exhibit every kind of normal wear and tear.

  3. I used to be a voracious reader, but I stopped around the time I went to college. Or, equivalently, I stopped around the time I switched to contact lenses.
  4. For some reason I decided to read the unabridged version of Stephen King’s The Stand a few months ago. The most lasting impression I was left with was that the book was very very long. That, and I didn’t like the supernatural mumbo-jumbo stuff near the end very much. I liked it better when it was just the stories of people trying to deal with an awful situation.
  5. I have started many more books than I have finished. I’m not counting those books whose first pages I’ve read in a bookstore or a library, just the ones I’ve bought or borrowed with every intention of reading the whole way through. Off the top of my head, some books I’m theoretically in the middle of include:
    • The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Salman Rushdie.
    • Something Happened, Joseph Heller.
    • Võõras (L’Étranger), Albert Camus.
    • Popmuusika a la Vittula, Mikael Niemi.
    • Necessary Illusions, Noam Chomsky.
    • Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    • Rehepapp, Andres Kivirähk.
    • Ma armastasin sakslast, A. H. Tammsaare.
  6. On a related topic, while there are a number of books whose opening lines I remember (or remember the gist of), I can only think of one ending line that has really stuck with me:

    The extra three were for leap years.

    It’s from Solzhenitsyn‘s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

  7. I’ve read more books in Piers Anthony’s Xanth series than I care to admit.
  8. I’ve read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series from beginning to end three times now.
  9. The most worthless book I’ve read is probably either Hederick the Theocrat or a Harlequin romance novel whose title may have been The Daddy Dilemma.
  10. I wish more books were printed on bible paper.
  11. My favorite book of all time is probably Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. I must have read it 100 times in elementary school.
  12. Three more bits of very important formative reading:
    • Zoobooks.
    • D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.
    • Anything and everything to do with dinosaurs.
  13. My least favorite book of all time is the textbook for a feedback control systems course I took. Not only did I loathe the class and despise the professor, I hated every aspect of the physical book itself. It was poorly written and organized, and the index was short and useless to the point of being downright insulting. There were few examples in the text, and many of the examples that were provided had typographical or mathematical errors in them. The book was not available used and cost significantly more than our other engineering texts, which were expensive enough to begin with. Its dimensions were such that, if left to its own devices for even an instant, it would flip to a different page or just close on you altogether. I could go on.
  14. It blows my mind to think of what tasks like typesetting, pagination, indexing, revising, and picture printing entailed before computers.
  15. The last book I read was Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, which I recommend wholeheartedly for much more than just the genesis of the meme-meme. The case studies of peculiar organisms are invariably fascinating, and Dawkins talks shit about the Pope at one point, more or less.

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