Monday, August 21, 2006

The Ubiquitous Book Meme

It seems like I've seen this one everywhere (Lutherpunk, Chris Halverson, Time's Fool, etc., etc.), and even though no one has expressly asked me to join in, I'm going to anyway.

1. One book that changed your life.

The Way of a Pilgrim. I read this on the plane as I was moving from Maryland to Oregon, and it made the change of geography a metaphor for my spiritual journey. I had learned in college to disdain the pedantic dogmatism of Christianity and to love mystical thought. Reading this book reversed a lot of the signs and before you know it I was a Christian again. As C.S. Lewis said, "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."

2. One book that you have read more than once.

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. I read this when I was twenty, and then again when I was thirty. I intend to read it again when I'm forty. It was a completely different book the second time I read it. The first time it was a book about a man rebelling against the constraining norms of society. The second time it was a book about a man struggling to understand himself. What will it be about next time?

3. One book you'd want on a desert island.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger. There might be something lost in reading a book about the struggle with the wonderfulness of people in general contrasted with the wretchedness of people in specific while on a desert island, but this is my favorite book.

4. One book that made you laugh.

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams. The Hitchiker's books are great, but I like things set on Earth. The imagination behind this one is great.

5. One book that made me cry.

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow. I saw the movie when I was about 12 and just loved it. Fortunately, I waited until I was much older to read the novel. I wouldn't have appreciated it nearly so much as a twelve-year old. Any book with a character consistently called "Mother's Younger Brother" is clearly worth reading.

6. One book that you wish had been written.

The Reconcliation of Protestants and Catholics: A History of Seventeenth Century Europe

7. One book that you wish had not been written.

On the Jews and Their Lies by Martin Luther

8. One book that you're currently reading.

Jesus the Jew by Geza Vermes. While I am more than a little skeptical of the whole "historical Jesus" thing, I can't help but be interested in hearing different people's answers to Jesus question, "Who do you say that I am?"

9. One book you've been meaning to read.

Only one? If I had only one book I'd been meaning to read I'd have done it by now.... Anyway, I've been meaning to read volume 2 of Frederick Copleston's History of Philosophy for a while now. I read volume 1 last year and really learned a lot, but it took so much out of me that I've had trouble motivating myself to move on to volume 2.

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