I appear to have been tagged by the esteemed, and now officially out of his “early” 20s, Dave Weigel:
1. One book that changed your life?
Well, given what I’ve ended up doing with my life, I guess Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, which is what I recall as getting me started thinking about political theory in some serious way. I doubt it felt “life changing” at the time, which I think is what people usually mean when they ask questions like this, but I’m guessing nine times out of ten, you don’t actually spot the inflection points in your own life until much later. On the other hand, you don’t want to attribute too much influence to the specific book in this case, since if not this one, it probably would’ve been something else that hooked me. (I’m pretty sure I first became a vegetarian as result of reading some book or other too, but don’t recall the title.)
2. One book that you have read more than once?
Well, I set aside an afternoon about once a year to reread The Elements of Style and “Politics and the English Language” just to beat the basic rules back into my head, but that’s probably like a programmer listing some Perl manual. So how about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which I’ve probably reread more times than is healthy just because if you happen to pick it up some lazy Sunday afternoon just to flip through, you tend to end up just going through the whole damn thing.
3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Swann’s Way maybe? Aside from being long and rich enough to while away the days, it could probably double as a life raft.
4. One book that made you cry?
Hm. Memory’s fuzzy, but I think The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
5. One book that made you laugh?
Well, I already mentioned Thompson, so how about The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy (ditto the first two sequels and Adams’ Dirk Gently books).
6. One book you wish had been written?
Antigone’s Children (or Not Follow a Multitude or whatever the hell I end up calling it) by Julian Sanchez… which would save me the trouble of writing it.
7. One book you wish had never been written?
Well, unlike the folks at Human Events, I tend not to think of books in themselves as “dangerous,” as opposed to the social movements associated with them. There were many factors in Hitler’s rise to power, but I doubt Mein Kampf had a whole lot to do with it, and while you’ve got a better case with Marxism, I don’t know how much difference eliminating some one high-profile text like The Communist Manifesto would’ve made. But maybe Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
8. One book you are reading currently?
I won’t mention any of the research stuff for the book, since I’ll probably blog about that separately in many cases, and instead tap the novel I’m reading as a break from all that, Journey to the End of the Night by Celine.
9. One book you have been meaning to read?
I’ve started Gravity’s Rainbow probably half a dozen times, and swear I will actually get through it one of these days. It’s got unfathomably long sections of pure dross, but it’s mixed with some truly spectacular prose, so I need just make myself plug through one of these days.
10. Pass it on