Friday, October 27, 2006

Book meme

Check this out - I got tagged by name with a meme (there's a nice new word). Only I didn't notice until now. Still, it's a first, and it's nice that someone's thought of me :)

1. One book that changed your life - the hardest question first.
The most obvious example would be the Bible, but I'll go for something less obvious: Plato's Apology of Socrates. I read it, in the original Greek, in the lower sixth form. It was the first and only time I got sufficiently on top of the language to be able to engage with the actual content of what I was reading. It's the speech Socrates made when he was tried for heresy and "corrupting youth." The bit which struck me most was from his speech on sentencing. His opponents propose the death penalty, hoping he'll choose instead banishment. But he says that he believes his entire reason for living is to be in Athens doing philosophy, and that he would rather be put to death for doing this than run away from it and live out his life, "a dead weight on the face of the earth." That phrase stuck with me: I hope it is never true of me.

2. One book that you've read more than once
The first three Harry Potter books. They are totally immersive and totally addictive. In fact I stopped re-reading after the third one because I felt they were taking over my life and I was starting to lose my grip on reality!

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island
The NIV Bible. I might finally make time to read it all the way through.

4. One book that made you laugh
The Gaston Lagaffe albums I brought back from Bordeaux when I did a French exchange at school. He was my icon whenever I thought about what an office job was like. Absolutely hilarious. It's a shame they're not available in English, but on the other hand, it's a really good reason to learn French.

5. One book that made you cry
The Bible. Obvious answer, really - it still does frequently. But I remember particularly being read Jesus' trial and death from Matthew's gospel when I was 12 or so - before I was a Christian, before I knew who he was. I'd heard all these stories about him doing great things, and then suddenly here he was essentially being politically murdered. It seemed so unfair, senseless, horrible. Four or five years later I found out why, when I first understood "the world" mentioned in 3:16 actually refers to me.

6. One book that you wish you had written
Harry Potter. Not for the money, although I think she deserves all of that. Just for the fact that it got a whole generation of children to read. It wasn't like that in my day. When I was at primary school, I read voraciously, but it was really untrendy and I was made fun of and sometimes bullied for it. Most people were glad to go outside at break and play football; I hated it (que ├ža change) and just wanted to sit and read. I really resented being thrown out of the nice warm classroom into the cold.

7. One book you wish had never been written
I have a reverence for books which I got from my dad. To me, burning a book, any book, because of its contents, is the most barbaric thing imaginable. Even throwing old books away feels somehow wrong. So I can't really answer this. But that's a bit lame, so I'll go for: Quiet Desperation, by Tom di Giovanni. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo last year, and wish I could have written something more interesting (and / or better) instead.

8. One book that you are reading at the moment
A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain volume 8: South and West Yorkshire. To me, a fascinating history of political and corporate squabbling mixed with economic growth, development, history, and decline. To most people, no doubt, unbelievably dry and spoddy. But that's not my problem :)

9. One book that you've been meaning to read
Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. My mum gave it to me. I believe it's a true story of how major corporations are raping the third world - the dark side of free market economics. I read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle many years ago and that's left me with a lasting reminder of where "free enterprise" will go if it's totally unfettered.

10. Five others that you'd like to do this
I'd be surprised if five people even read this! Go on, post a comment and prove me wrong :) But if they do: Andy Bastable, Martin Eyles, McSwain from Hildebrand Road, Eduardo from Grey Shadow, and Phil who used to write the Thoughts of Chairman Phil. If they haven't done it already.