Friend and Act One alumn, Clayton Emmer, tagged me with the latest chain-blog. The idea is to answer the following five questions on my site and then invite five other bloggers to do the same. Apparently, this is called a meme.
Here are my responses:
1. Total number of books I own: How could anyone ever answer this question? I have four large bookshelves and two half size ones in my apartment. I have five boxes of unpacked books in my closet. At work, I have two more bookshelves of books...and I have put the overflow of books about art and movies on Act One's bookshelves.
2. The last book I bought: Walden I was just watching a Sunday morning movie today starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, called All That Heaven Allows. At one point, Wyman's character reads a pasage from Walden aloud, and it was lovely. And it occurred to me that I should read it, in anticipation of my coming life as a forest ranger....which has always been my real haunting destiny. So, I got right on Amazon, and ordered a copy.
3. The last book I read: Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. It's really a pretty terrible book. Amazing how great the movie is considering the source material. David Lean was really a genius.
4. Five books that mean a lot to me:
* Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh - as much as any book ever, this book convicts me that 'I am not alone'. I go back to Julia's speech about living in sin over and over. It is one of the great speeches about the reality of man as a spiritual being. I so want to be Cordelia, but I fear I will grow up to be her mother.
* 2nd Corinthians, by the Apostle to the Gentiles - I can almost never hear or read a chapter of this book of the Bible without feeling something stir in my soul. I always thought if I was a Bishop, I'd have as my motto, 2 Cor 12: "My grace is enough for you."
* Howard's End, by E.M. Forster - This book and it's theme 'Only Connect' became a kind of manifesto for my life. For the way it reconciles the findamentally opposed worldviews of materialism and spirit, I really think it is one of the most important books of the 20th Century. There are so many wonderful lines, but the one I always recall is something to the effect of, "The only gift of a greater intellect, is in its ability to lead others into the truth." Why can't more of us grow up wanting to be Margaret Schlegel?
* Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky - I've been obsessed with this book since I was about 15. I've read it probably six times, and I even talked my way into a graduate seminar on it at Harvard...even though I wasn't a graduate student at the time. I'm two parts Alyosha,one and a half parts Ivan and a half part Dimitri...or else I'm just Kolya absolutely, completely and stunningly so. This book strikes me like walking into St. Peter's or listening to Mozart: There must be a God.
* Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis - What the hell does this book mean, and why does it make me crazy?! I've read it over and over. I love to read it, even though it shames me in every read because I just can't articulate exactly what the main point of it is. It's artfully done. Probably impossible to do in any other art form. It is one of the books in which the main character's pain and motivations absolutely speak to me. I've never really been a big C.S. Lewis fan, but for this masterpiece...
*The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson - I'm sorry, but I just couldn't limit myself to five. I don't read poetry. I only read Emily. Since I was about 8. I have a copy of an article my father made for me about Emily possibly suffering from Lupus, that is dated to put me at ten years old, and already caring about such things. I don't love Emily because I understand her. I only understand certain lines of some poems. But when I do read a line of hers and it suddenly makes sense to me, I feel like I have just won a lottery.
5. Tag five people:
Karen Hall(so she can stop harrassing me about it...but really because she will write funny and clever things). Mark Shea. (Yes, a shameless attempt to coax him from his hiatus.) Jan Batchler (because as the maven, Jan knows the best books past, present and future). Sr. Lorraine (Because anyone who has a "Thomas (Aquinas) Tuesday" deserves a hearing!)