This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.
This one comes from Randy McDonald.
1) Total number of books I've owned:
At a rough guess, I'd say between one hundred and two hundred. I have about a hundred here with me in New York, and there's more at my parents' home in London. I'm quite impressed with Randy having owned a thousand books in his lifetime...I certainly haven't had so many! I have also read a lot of books that I've borrowed from the rest of my family.
2) The last book I bought:
Markar Melkonian My Brother's Road: An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia - It's a biography of the legendary/infamous Monte Melkonian, as written by his brother. Monte went from an all-American childhood in rural California to pre-Revolutionary Iran, street fighting against the Phalange as part of an Armenian militia in Beirut, membership in the secretive Armenian terrorist group Asala, involvement with sundry shadowy Palestinian and Kurdish groups, a French prison, and the status of national hero for his role as one of the best Armenian commanders in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Needless to say, this guy led a pretty outsized life, so I figured that a biography of him by his brother, who had himself participated in some of the fighting against the Phalange in Beirut, reconstructing his life would be pretty interesting. I've only gotten about 50 pages in (I've been reading other stuff), but so far it is very good.
3) The last book I read:
Robert O. Paxton The Anatomy of Fascism, which was excellent. I'll have a review of it done by tonight.
4) Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):
Ah, this is tricky. Choosing five? Hrm. I'll just go with three for the moment, and perhaps update later when I can think of another two.
Alex Bellos Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life - I must have read this about five times by now (and in fact it was the first book I reviewed for this blog). I dunno how much it 'means' to me, but I find it endlessly fascinating, endlessly entertaining, and it always cheers me up. It's a wonderful combination of travelogue, social commentary, humor, and sports. What's not to love?
Philip Gourevitch We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda - The best book I've read about the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. It's a deeply, deeply affecting look both at the specific events, how they were planned for and carried out, as well as a meditation on evil, forgiveness, redemption, and man's responsibilities towards each other. Deeply depressing, but powerful stuff. The sort of book where every so often you put it down on the table and pace around the kitchen thinking deeply.
Fyodor Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment - Obviously this is the sort of classic that any serious reader will have read at some point, so I don't really need to say what it's about. I put this down not just because it is a great book, but also because I first read it for a class when I was seventeen with the best English teacher I have ever had, Jim McGovern, who tragically died a year later. It's very easy to get into cliches when talking about favorite teachers ('he made the words come alive' etc etc etc) but they were all true in my time with him; he changed the way in which I see the world and understand people, and this is still with me today. Rest in peace.
5) Tag five people and have them fill this out on their blogs