The lovely Kimberly recently tagged me with a book meme. I'm terrible at getting around to doing these things, and I doubt anyone (except maybe Kimberly) really wants to know my answers to these questions, but hey, it's more fun (for me) than working.
Actually, I answered some of these questions in brief elsewhere, but in the interest of wasting time I will refine my responses here.
Total number of books I've owned
My rough estimate of books currently occupying shelves and waiting patiently in unpacked boxes is about 2000. (So I exaggerated a little previously.) The number of books I've ever owned would be easily double that number, having seriously culled my shelves in a move about 8 years ago (finally liberating myself from required university reading as well as the literary trash that had helped pass the time) and including boxes that remain in my mother's basement (favourites from my childhood and teenage years).
The last book I bought
I imposed a moratorium on book-buying a few months ago. Knowing that we'd be moving soon it didn't make sense to me to add to the piles needing packing, particularly when there is sufficient as yet unread material on hand to get me through this stressful period. Even though I've been frequenting bookstores lately, it's more in a pursuit of calm and centredeness than to satisfy any urge for acquisitions. Likely the last book I bought was Walter Mosley's The Man in My Basement (in April), discounted, and no, I haven't read it yet. Too, I rather like deluding myself that I don't have a book-buying compulsion, so I may have conveniently forgotten one or two purchases since.
The last book I read
I am 28 pages from the end (does that count?) of José Saramago's The Double, and I'm dying to know how it turns out. (I must set my priorities straight.) Although the opening chapters didn't impress me, the meat of it is more than satisfactory. Before this book was Iain Pears' The Dream of Scipio.
I recommend both of these to people whose taste in books is highly similar to my own (practically no one). I would recommend neither to casual acquaintances looking to me for a suggestion for light summer reading.
[In a twist of fate, my computer froze while composing this post. The clock on the computer also froze, and so I gained, or lost, half an hour. Amid waiting and rebooting and waiting and scrambling to recover files, I managed to finish reading The Double, on which I will have something to say later.]
Five books that mean a lot to me
These change over time. Few books are truly life-changing. Some books I'm sentimental about because of the time in my life when I read them or because they were gifts from lovers. Today I choose the following, some of which I've written about previously:
1. A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett.
"Not because it introduced me to the world of books — I was already immersed in it. I read it when I was 8 or 9 — it couldn't've been long after my father died. I felt something like empathy with poor orphaned Sara (our princess), and so a whole new level of reading was opened up to me, some place Nancy Drew could not take me. I learned something about mastery of one's inner life even when completely at odds with one's surroundings."
2. The Razor's Edge, W Somerset Maugham.
3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera.
4. The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster.
"Changed my life. There. I knew I would find one. Thing is, I can't quite pinpoint how. Something to do with that time in my life, fumbling about at university, identity, my obsession with the myth of the Tower of Babel, why I finally chose to study linguistics, and my generally roundabout approach to life."
5. The First Century after Beatrice, Amin Maalouf.
Apart from the fact that it has a great premise and is told by a master storyteller, I don't know why I rave about this book, to everyone. Honestly I don't know what it means to me, but it feels Important.
Tag 5 people
This is where it all falls apart. Memes tend to stop with me. I don't think I even know 5 people, let alone 5 who would be happy to take up the challenge and post responses on their own blogs. So with absolutely no expectations, I tag:
1. Liam (Silly Daddy), because I want to encourage his blogging efforts by obligating him to comply.
2. Suzanne (Miscellanea & Ephemera), because she also needs to blog more, and I think she likes being tagged.
3. Russell (All My Shoes and Glasses), even though he's on a blog vacation, because he's taken an interest in memes lately, going so far as to create his own (though I've not felt adequate to undertake it).
4. Diana (Seeking Clarity), because she reads a lot, and this may provide some clarity.
5. Anonymous, even though you don't visit much anymore, because I want to know more about you.