|I've been tagged to answer these questions. They're about books. A jolly good time will be had by all. Off we go:|
1. Number of books you have owned: Hell if I know. But our current count (I share with Mrs. Wasp Jerky) is 613, give or take a handful.
2. Last book I bought: Krystyna Zywulska's I Survived Auschwitz and Miklos Nyiszli's I Was Doctor Mengele's Assistant, both of which I purchased at Auschwitz while I was there this summer.
3. Last book I completed: I think it was George Khoury's The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore, which is a book length interview with Moore about his 25 years of writing.
4. Five books that mean a lot to me:
1) Franky Schaeffer's Addicted to Mediocrity
Schaeffer is the son of Francis Schaeffer. At different times in his life he's been a painter, filmmaker, and more recently, novelist. This book, and a follow up called Sham Pearls for Real Swine, had a huge impact on me in college. Back then I was moving away from being a fundamentalist and realising that Christianity was more than the lies I'd been told for 20 years. Schaeffer writes about the arts, about Christians who insist on a dichotomy between the secular and the sacred, and about how ridiculous that is. He writes about using art to propagandise for Jesus. And, really, all this is just a microcosm for what Christianity has become, and why that's completely wrong.
2) Alan Moore's Watchmen
I grew up on comics. I was reading Spider-man on hot, sticky summer nights (hey, keep it clean!) when I was just a little tyke. If you love the medium, you know that there's a certain segment of the population that considers comics as being "for kids." Even though that's changed a lot due to people like Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Marjane Satrapi, Daniel Clowes, Harvey Pekar, and Craig Thompson, there's still a stuffy sense of superiority in some quarters about this sort of thing. You'd think Maus winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 would have cleared this up. Anyways, Moore's was the first time I realised that comics can do some fucking brilliant stuff. Moore's storytelling is unmatched. And the subtext here, the way the words and pictures comment on one another in the most subtle ways, the way that even the tiniest of details has tremendous importance, is just breathtaking. Non-linear, sophisticated, psychologically penetrating, with a plot featuring perhaps the ultimate "Do the ends justify the means scenario?," this is one of the best novels I've ever read. Period.
3) Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
I led a pretty blissfully ignorant life for many years. I've been waking up slowly, probably ever since I started encountering what I would call real Christian faith. It's been the same way with politics. Up until 9/11 or so, I was content to watch the mainstream news and believe what I was told. Not anymore. I'm not sure when exactly it happened, when I stopped trusting the media machine and the lemming-like way we're all walking over the cliffs. Greg Palast's book is a pretty good symbol for it, though. When I started learning about how tens of thousands of voters, a disproportionate number of which were African American (and consequently Democrats), were illegally removed from the Florida voter rolls in 2000, about how voting machines in black Florida voting districts were programmed to "eat" "spoiled" ballots, the world sort of spun upside down. And then shattered. The truth really does hurt, like a shotgun blast to the chest. I've got Palast and others like him to thank for it. Palast may be the finest journalist alive today. That's why you've probably never heard of him.
4) John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany
I think Owen Meany was the first book my wife ever made me read while we were dating. It's special for that alone. Plus it's a great meditation on faith, doubt, mystery, and circumstance.
5) William Hendricks' Exit Interviews
This one really probably doesn't go in my top five. But I thought of it, so I'm claiming it. Exit Interviews is a book of feature-style interviews with people who have stopped going to church. Back when I first read it, I could completely relate. I still can.
4b. What are you currently reading?
I'm reading Marci Hamilton's God vs. the Gavel : Religion and the Rule of Law and Stephen King's Different Seasons.
5. Which 5 bloggers are you passing this onto?
3. The McCartys
4. Ramblin' Educat
And no, you don't have to do mini-essays about every book the way I did. But you can if you want.