Saturday, April 04, 2009

Online Book Quiz

Online Book Quiz

How many books do I own?

Goodness. That's a difficult one. Most of my college library was dispersed to, erm, buy beer. I lost a lot of my London library when I moved here, but between K and myself we must have well over a thousand. K just won about twenty editions of Shakespeare plays from an online sweepstake...

2. What’s the last book I bought? Last book I ordered was Pasteur's Quadrant by David Stokes (I'm researching the distinction between basic and applied science for a paper):

Last book I physically bought was Andrew Robert's Napoleon and Wellington, a great read that I left in England, grumble grumble.

Last book I was given was The Gallifrey Chronicles by Lance Parkin (thanks, Chad!), which I devoured in one sitting but found ultimately unsatisfying:

Three for the price of one. I feel like a book megastore.

3. What’s the last book I read? Arthur Hermann's To Rule the Waves, a history of the Royal Navy and how it changed the world (Edward Vernon, the father of grog, was opening up Spanish ports to free trade 50 years before Adam Smith). A fantastic book, which has made me buy some rum. Arrrr.

4. What are the five books that mean the most to me? In chronological order of authorship:

Homer: The Iliad. I had to read it in the original without having read it in translation first. I have never been more amazed by a work in my life. Fagles' translation captures a lot of the feel of the original.

Cicero: In Catalinam. Not exactly a book, but a collection of four of the masterpieces of political invective. Inspired me to become a debater.

I'm ruling out Shakespeare, where I'd probably nominate Henry V, but it's really a play that you should watch (you can't really recreate the Catlinarian Orations, so I'm happy to regard them as more a book now). So I'll move forward quite a bit to Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. The only thing to make me laugh so hard I fell off a chair before Terry Pratchett.

In similar vein, A G Macdonnell's England Their England is probably just as funny, and contains the best description of a cricket match as seen by a bemused foreigner (a Scot, in this case, Mr Bruce will be glad to hear). I'm so glad to see it back in print.

Finally, to finish on a slightly depressing note, I'll nominate Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare. No work better summarizes the disastrous failure of the 60s social experiment and why the left are wrong on everything. Things that work well in theory are often disastrous in practice and that we should tamper with age-old ways of doing things at our peril. It's recognizing that that makes a conservative, I suppose.

There we are. I don't believe in passing on chain letters, so I won't invite others, but those are my answers, for what they're worth.