Monday, May 30, 2005

I Got Tagged

By Mommentary with some book questions. Here are my answers:

1. Total number of books I've owned. I'd conservatively peg the number at about 3,000. The number of books I've owned that are worth reading is considerably smaller.

2. Last book I bought. Bottum & Dallin, Eds., The Pius War, a book on the defamatory controversy over Pope Pius XII, and Ronald Radosh's Commies: A Journey through the Old Left, the New Left, and the Leftover Left, which is about growing up Communist in America. Before that, it was the first three books of Bourroughs' Barsoom series, and volume X of the Man-Kzin Wars series. Before that, it was Beevor's Stalingrad and Berlin: The Downfall, 1945.

3. Last book I read. Oh, I don't read them. I just buy them and think about reading them. I don't read books like most people, one at a time. I tend to have four or five going at once. So the last books I read were Stalingrad, Hitchens' Letters to a Young Contrarian and Larry Niven's Ringworld's Children. Beevor's book was all right, but fails one of my tests for military history -- if you need ten maps and a complete OOB to figure out what the author's telling you, it's not a great military history. Hitchens, oh that Hitchens! So brilliant on everything else, and such a garden-variety dumb atheist when it comes to Christianity. For anyone who wants to read good science-fiction, Niven is one of the top 5 science-fiction authors of all time, and his "Ring World" is an incredible place. I wish he'd write more about the Smoke Ring, but we can cry all day about the books our favorite authors don't write. I also re-read The Mote in God's Eye, which is one of the 10 best science-fiction novels ever written, IMHO. (I am strangely enthusiastic about science fiction. Every science fiction book I read is either one of the ten-best or it's crap. My list of the 10 best science fiction books is about a hundred books long).

4. Five books that mean a lot to me. Other than Scripture, there's Paul Johnson's Modern Times. Once you read it, you realize that we're not gonna make it without divine intervention. Then there's Dr. Doolittle, the first book I ever read all by myself, all the way through to the end. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead was important because it made me realize that happiness isn't just something Christians talk about, that it's a universal necessity, and because Rand's perverted ideas about happiness were fundamentally repugnant to me. There's Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger. That book played a key role in my entry into the Church, but don't ask me why because I'm not quite sure myself. Lastly, I'll mention Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Newman's Essay is an amazing meta-historical idenfication of Christianity with the Roman Catholic Church which is thorough, and damn-near unarguable. And the interesting thing is that he doesn't rely on revelation to prove it.

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