Book meme from Ben

Just when I was feeling out of things to write about, Ben saves me with a meme.

1. One book that changed your life: That’s an easy one. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. I find most of her writing ponderous now, but when I read it high school it was compelling. Since I had the good luck to grow up without religion it was my first flirtation with an all-embracing ideology. Fortunately I moved on to other things, but it’s safe to say that without Atlas… no Torch, no IHS seminars, no Cato internship. And no eventual burn out that led to becoming a barista? Perhaps. The alternate life in which I didn’t read this book while young is hard to picture.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: The Great Gatsby. In high school I hated it. Like one Amazon reviewer, I considered it “no more than a lengthy description of the doings of fops.” Re-reading it in a philosophy and lit class at Vanderbilt I finally recognized it as the great American novel.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Its praise of solitude would be ideal for a desert island and its aphoristic style would be good for non-sequential browsing.

4. One book that made you laugh: Steve Martin’s The Pleasure of My Company.

5. One book that made you cry: Not sure I’ve every been physically moved to tears by a book. If I have, it was probably from Of Mice and Men or To Kill a Mockingbird.

6. One book that you wish had been written: An additional novel by Peter Taylor.

7. One book you wish had never been written: The Catcher in the Rye. There are probably novels with protoganonists less likeable than Holden Caulfield, but I haven’t read them.

8. One book you’re currently reading: (You could just look at the sidebar.) The Medici Giraffe, a series of historical vignettes detailing how exotic animals have been used by people in power to add to their prestige and cement diplomatic relations. It’s well-written and a fascinating jumping off point for the various tales. Plus the title of the epilogue — “Little people in furry suits” — makes me giggle. I assume the chapter is a musing on anthropomorphism, but I like to interpret it more comically.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. It sounds fascinating, but the equations and code are intimidating for someone as poor at math as I am.

I’m not sure I have the blog cred right now to tag anyone Ben hasn’t already tagged. But if you want to play along, go for it.


6 thoughts on “Book meme from Ben”

  1. Interesting that you don’t like Catcher in the Rye. I agree Holden Caulfield is a loathsome fictional character, but I think the book itself is really rather good, perhaps because Holden is such a turd. Are you really willing to call it the one book that should never have been written?

  2. There are lots of books that we can probably all agree shouldn’t have been written, but the question’s only interesting if you choose something controversial. Since Catcher is considered such a classic, I made it my choice. I wouldn’t go starting any book bonfires for it though.

    I’ll take advantage of your response to unofficially tag you. What’s on your list?

  3. Oooooh, Ayn Rand. Hadn’t thought of her or I would have put her on the “wish they had never been written” section.

    Occasionally, Jacob, it becomes clear to me that you and I have very different philosophies of life.

  4. Now now, Ben, Atlas Shrugged is an excellent novel, if extremely overly preachy (I mean, my God, 60 pages for John Galt’s speech, and he spends the whole time repeating what Rand has already written). However, I haven’t read Anthem, which I believe is the one so reviled by you.

  5. What ever happened to Steve Martin? When I was growing up, he was one of my favorite actors. Now he seems to be churning out zillions of movie which don’t do him justice.

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