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05/29/2005 Archived Entry: "Playing Book Tag"

I'VE BEEN TAGGED by Wally Conger to play Book Tag. Although I don't usually "do" anything resembling chain letters, this one seemed both fun and different.

If you're interested in buying any of the books I mention, I'd be grateful if you'd use this Amazon.com link.

Total number of books I've owned:
Thousands. And I once considered it some sort of sin to give, throw away, or even donate books. But when you move around a lot, owning books is like owning grand pianos. I now own fewer than 100 -- but my library card gets hot from over-use.

(This question seems to have morphed into "Total number of books I own" as it's traveled around the blogosphere; I went back to the original form.)

Last book I bought:
I bought four books together: Irish Music for Recorder, Medieval and Renaisance Dances for Recorders, Dancers, and Hand Drums, The Recorder Guide and The Usborne Book of Easy Recorder Tunes. With a little help from my friends, I'm trying to teach myself to play the tenor recorder. The latter of these four books, which features colorful drawings of smurf-like creatures and looks like something a kindergartener would use, actually turns out to have the most and best information about musical notation.

Last book I read:
I'm currently reading two books: Living with a Writer, a collection of essays edited by Dale Salwak (in hopes that somebody will understand me); and the not-quite-final manuscript of the upcoming Spychips: Exposing the secret plan to track your every move with RFID by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre of CASPIAN. The book is brilliantly written -- so scary and depressing I want to put it down, so full of fascinating vignettes and facts that I can't put it down.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
I'm trying not to go for the obvious "books that influenced my political self" approach. So instead, as Wally did, I'm going to reach all the way back to childhood and extend my memory out in several directions, as well.

All of the following are also books I kept when I finally gave most of my library away.

1. On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss. This book describes some of the letters that lie beyond Z in the alphabet -- and a few of the wild creatures that can be written about only with those letters. I'm sure I would have learned to love word play anyhow, but this book introduced me to it early. It was my favorite Dr. Seuss book when I was six; it's my favorite now. "So on beyond Zebra, explore like Columbus. Discover new letters like Wum is for Wumbus ..."

And here's a wonderful, playful essay by a word lover who feels just as I do about this book. That person also shared a young love for my next Big Book.

2. The Lord of the Rings. What more does anyone need to say?

3. The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo. It's about the Japanese tea ceremony. But also about so much more. About Art and Grace and Beauty, care, patience, and gentle contemplation. Truly a formative book for me. When I looked it up on Amazon.com to list it here I was surprised the to see it's still in print, still with the same cover as my 40-year-old copy. Next year will be its 100th anniversary.

4. On Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. You've got your bible. I've got mine. This is it.

5. Our Marvelous Native Tongue by Robert Claiborne. Although it's thicker and less fanciful, you can think of this as the grownup's equivalent of On Beyond Zebra. Claiborne writes with great wit about the origins and charms of the English language.

6. I'm an anarchist. I don't have to stop with five just because somebody else said so. Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer. No book helped me better to understand the traditions that various English (and to a lesser extent German, Irish, and Scots-Irish) cultural groups brought to America. One of the key concepts Fischer focuses on is how these groups viewed liberty -- and their varying views echo throughout America hundreds of years later.

7. RebelFire:Out of the Gray Zone by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman. Is it cheating to list one of my own books as one that "means a lot to me"? But it's true. My first novel, just released. I haven't even received my author's copies yet. I have high hopes that this adventure story, written primarily for young people, will reach beyond the usual libertarian suspects and carry both the fear of tyranny and the hope of freedom to upcoming generations. Anyhow, I'm proud of it. And I'll only get to write a sequel if a lot of people embrace this one.

Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs:

Kirsten Tynan
Dave Polascheck
David Codrea
Karen De Coster
Liberty Lightning
Sunni Maravillosa and Wendy McElroy have already been tagged by others.
What the heck, I'm an anarchist. Why just five? You, too, have been tagged, Bill St Clair

Posted by Claire @ 03:28 PM CST

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