Sunday, June 12, 2005

Tagged Twice: Book Meme

Well, it's Sunday, I don't have much to write about unless you want to hear me moan and groan about the state of my finances or the current lack of employment, so I decided that, after two tags for the same meme, I should answer it.

What will be funny is that I think my choices in books may surprise some of my readers.

Or not.

1) Number of Books You Own: I honestly don't know. At one point I had something like eight boxes not including what was on the shelves. I did give some away to the free library so I think the number is somewhere around two hundred.

2) Last book bought: Well, this may be a shocker, but it was Thea Devine (psuedonym, I'm sure) and the book was Seductive, an erotic romance. Although, not much of "romance" in most of her books, I own them all. Anybody surprised? I know most of my readers probably imagine me sitting around reading great tomes on world history, heh? I do, but not all the time.

3) Last book I read: Does reading books on the internet count? I can't find the site right this second, but there is a great site that has most of the best known historical literature on the net. I read Ivanhoe inspired by a post from the Cigarette Smoking Man to revisit some of my favorite books from my early reading.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me: Not in any particular order or influence:

The bible: Come on, even if you're not "religious" if you haven't read the bible, you are missing some good reading. Like all books, it has parts that get really slow and dull, like all the "who beget who", but otherwise, great book. Also read about 1/3 of the Koran (Qu'ran?). Haven't made it all the way through nor to the sub works, though Rasoul is like reading one of the gospels and getting the "side" story that fleshes things out.

Nietzche: Beyond Good & Evil. Do I have to explain Nietzche? I think everyone has to read Nietzche once in their life and I remember I was searching for answers, reading a lot of philosophy, trying to create my own basically. Then one day, I woke up and realized that there is "good and evil", even if you don't define it in strictly religious terms, if you don't believe in Satan, there are two poles of human ideas and actions. Watching interviews with serial killers, looking into souless eyes and hearing them talk about their activities as if they were nothing, just another act, even listening to people talk about what may have made them into what they are, it still reminds me that there are two poles, we could be either one but for something inside of us that tells us to be or not to be. Maybe that's what Nietzche was going for?

Doesn't matter, I read him and even as I did I knew he was both right and wrong.

Ishmail. I really loved this book and can fully recommend it.

The unnamed narrator is a disillusioned modern writer who answers a personal ad ("Teacher seeks pupil. . . . Apply in person.") and thereby meets a wise, learned gorilla named Ishmael that can communicate telepathically. The bulk of the book consists entirely of philosophical dialogues between gorilla and man, on the model of Plato's Republic.

Like Nietzche, Quinn seeks to change your mind about whether developing civilization was good or bad for man. And, like Nietzche, you will think about what he's saying, but it might not change your mind. You might even wrinkle your nose a few times. For the record, Ishmael is the Gorilla. Again, he is right and wrong, at least in my mind, but an interesting read if you want some of your ideas challenged.

Islam: A Short History. This was the first book I ever read about Islam after September 11. It was interesting and it put me on the trail of researching more information about the Middle East and Islam. In some parts it is the basic historic reading of the development of Mohammed's ideas on religion and his conquest of the tribes. I must say though that it had a rather romantic view of Mohammed's reasoning for developing his ideas and bringing the Arab tribes together. It was also rather apologetic and made Arab and Islamic culture to be a bit of the "child" that has been taken advantage of by all the other countries in the world, never really looking at what the internal power politics of certain leaders were that led to some of their own problems. Frankly, I found the Library of Congress, though a little dry, to be much more interesting read on the current issues of the Middle East for simple straightforward and rather unbiased historical facts. Contrary to what some might believe about "American history" writing being "biased", the library of congress put together simple facts about each step in the development of the different countries, the involvement of the west, etc. Add that to T.E. Lawrence "Pillars of Wisdom" and his letters, Zawahiri "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner", Hubands Warrior's of the Prophet, and Queen Noor's "Leap of Faith" and you see where I started getting my ideas about Islam, Arab culture and ME history. Fortunately, I have also read many bloggers from the ME and discovered we aren't all that different sometimes.

I realize, strangely, that all of these books are written by westerners on Islam. Maybe one of my readers with more experience could recommend some books written on the ME by an Arab or other writer?

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I could have said "Plato" or "The Iliad", both had profound effects on my ideas about western culture, freedom and heroism. Or, maybe Locke or Paine or de Toqueville, but I have to say that this book, long as it was, made me take a look at civilizations around the world, their rise and fall, the things that precipitate the fall. It's always like a little warning light in the back of my mind.

This Meme was brought to you by Alix in Wunderland and Sandmonkey from the APU.

I'll think about who, if anyone will get tagged.

Cigarette Man, care to take a turn?


alix said...

thanks for doing that kat.
so, when are you taking over the world? ;)

Kat said...

I'd say tomorrow, but seriously, the world is such a pain in the ass, I'd rather they just go do their thing and let me do mine.

That would be too much to ask, I know, so I might have to get involved and kick some ass anyway.

Gadfly said...


Attention Attention

You are hereby tagged with the following meme:

What would you do if you won the powerball lottery and were suddenly wealthy beyond your dreams of avarice?

What would you do with all that money?

MichaelH121 said...

I have missed something.

You are without employment?

Sorry to hear about that.

As to books. I am being taken over by them. I can safely say I have collected more than 500.

The last I bought was just yesterday.

Douglas Adams "The Salmon of Doubt" The now 5th book in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Triliogy As Adams said the misnamed trilogy.