Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Receiving Stolen Goods

One last piece of procrastination before I get back to work.

A week ago, Publius passed me the book meme. I was reluctant to take it up, because he himself had not been passed the meme by anybody, despite the specific rules of the game, and I didn't want to be open to accusations of receiving stolen goods. But a week passed, and Publius' larceny failed to bring the heavens crashing down, so I figured there was no harm. And so:

1. Total number of books I've owned: Gosh, I've no idea. Over the course of my whole life, including school books and books that I didn't buy but just took possession of from my father? I'd imagine around 400-500.

2. Last book I bought: Judge Dave and the Rainbow People, in which Judge David Sentelle has a series of comic misadventures presiding over a dispute between several thousand hippies who want to stage a reunion in a national forest in western North Carolina and the state health officials who want to stop them. A remarkably timely book, given that the judge's stalled nomination to the D.C. Circuit (blocked by Senators Kennedy and Leahy) looms in the background the entire time.

3. Last book I read: Same as above, on the train to and from New Haven on Tuesday. Before that, The Antitrust Bulletin, Vol. 42-2 (1997). Last non-academic reading: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a friend's copy, read while doing my laundry in his basement between the hours of 11pm and 2am. Total retention: zero.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me: Hmm...

(a) R.R. Palmer's History of the Modern World, Eighth Edition. Big, comprehensive, exquisitely written. Neither multiculturalist clap-trap nor Whiggish winners' history. The finest general-use textbook written on any subject in the humanities or social sciences.

(b) Robert Sobel's For Want of a Nail. Another history textbook, only this time it's fake history. For Want of a Nail is, hands-down, the best counterfactual history ever ridden, not just better than modern chumps like Harry Turtledove, but surpassing the forays into the genre by such able prose stylists as Churchill, Chesterton and MacKinlay Kantor. Re-ignited my interest in fantastical literature of all stripes.

(c) Walter Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz. What a great, weird story. Deals with some fairly important ideas (the endurance, and depravity, of human nature; the perseverance of God's providence) but also has multi-headed nuclear mutants. This is the kind of fiction I would write, if I could write fiction.

(d) The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Old reliable. Like having an encyclopedic, if somewhat vague, spiritual director sitting on your bookshelf. If I'm going anywhere for more than two weeks, this baby comes with.

(e) Roy Gerrard's Sir Cedric. For whatever reason, this one reminds me of my late mother. A squat, mustachioed knight errant who likes to dine on cucumber sandwiches. Veddy British. I sometimes think there was some kind of a devil's bargain between my parents, whereby my father got to raise the kids Catholic, and my mother got to raise us WASPy and Anglophilic.

5. Tag five people and have them do this on their blog: Let's see. How's about Will, Death (if she's still blogging), Kentuckian Dave, Carina of An Inclination to Criticize, and Dawn Eden. That's a solid list.