The book meme

The kind and insightful neo-neocon tagged me a while ago. Although this took more time than it should have, I’m glad to be tagged. I’ve gotten into a fairly deep rut lately, writing about politics and little else. I majored in English literature, but most of what I read lately is online. Not a good habit.

Total number of books owned

We’ve lived in many places. Every time we move we have many heavy boxes filled with books. Judging from our complaints and the complaints of friends and moving men who dealt with those boxes, the total number should probably be measured in tons.

Last book I bought

Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic, Part One – for my Arabic Class

The last book I read

Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip by Jim Rogers.
Financier Rogers travelled around the world with his fiancee and a few web geeks in 1999. He decided to use a Mercedes because most third-world mechanics know how to fix them. Foreign NGO’s and their attempts to stop “poverty” have given random dictators plenty of money to throw around. His evaluations of Iran as an investment opportunity (he thought it was a good idea until he found out how much influence the Mullahs have), his optimism about China and his very accurate descriptions about the ups and downs of a road trip made the book a lot of fun.

Five books that mean a lot to me

West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Markham grew up in Africa and was basically unsupervised by her father. She grew up with the native kids, worked as a racehorse trainer and found ultimate freedom as a pilot. She was the first pilot to successfully cross the Atlantic from east to west, against the headwinds. (Not the first female pilot, the first pilot). As a person who led the kind of life I fantasized about since I was a kid, her story is a favorite.

Holidays in Hell by P.J. O’Rourke
The funniest and most honest travel guide ever. I bought this when it first came out, back in the ’80’s, and it was my first break away from the grim prison of being politcially correct. Everyone I knew said “how could you buy this book? He’s a Republican”. I’d say “Read it, it’s funny and it’s true”. None did. Shades of things to come.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen W. Hawking
Hawking does his best to explain the most far-out theories of Quantum Physics in terms that the non-physicist can understand. It’s a great reference book for anyone who is wondering when we’re going to get transporters, warp drive and time machines. I mean, it’s the 21st century already. What’s taking so long?

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
A wonderfully cynical portrayal of the mind-numbingly dull life of a London-based political activist. Conrad portrays him and his Comrades as what they are, bitter, destructive losers.

The Stand by Stephen King
Yes, the movie blew chunks, but the book is a masterpiece of character development, entertainment, apocalyptic good vs. evil fiction and plot. Some of King’s later books were a lot bigger than they should have been, but this huge book was just right.

Books I’ve given away

In general, I exchange political books with my husband, classic literature with my daughter, aviation-related books with my son & husband, comics with my father and mysteries with my mom. Again, too many to count.

Passing it on – if you’re reading this and if you’re inspired to comment or post, feel free.


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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4 Responses to The book meme

  1. bob says:

    If memory serves, Hemingway met Markham in Africa and was stunned by the quality of her prose. Thanks for reminding me of this book. I can get it for my youngest daughter who will love it.

    Somehow this jogs my memory of a great book my sister recommended called “White Waters and Black” by Gordon MacCreagh. It chronicles the follies of a bunch of Ivy League academics going on an expedition through the headwaters of the Amazon basin in the 1920’s. The stories are both fascinating and hilarious.

  2. MaryMadigan says:

    Hemmingway read “West with the Night” and wrote to Maxwell Perkins:

    ..she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers

    His review must have been sincere, since, according to rumor, Hemmingway didn’t really like Markham all that much. Maybe because she was as tough as he was? :-)

    Thanks for the “White Waters and Black” recommendation. It sounds like a good summer read.

  3. AMac says:

    I used to live just off U.S. Route 2 in Vermont, and at one point the protagonists in The Stand are driving through that state. There was something about turning the pages at 2 a.m. and realizing that King was describing, accurately, the road and the bridge that was right outside the door. Funny what sticks in one’s head…

  4. MaryMadigan says:

    They shot the latest “The War of the Worlds” in a nearby town, Bayonne. People who saw the movie got a kick out of seeing their whole town blown up.

    I don’t know how many small Maine towns Stephen King has destroyed, but people seem to be okay with that too. I guess it does make the story more memorable.

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