Thursday, June 30, 2005


In Which I Say What I Meme...

Okay, okay.

Because I've never (to my knowledge) been tagged before...

And because it's Ms. Marvel doing the tagging (I'm a sucker for anyone
with same secret ID initials as me), I will now take the plunge and
give you

Magazine Man's Book Meme
(hereafter known as MM's BM)

Number of Books I Own (by location)

Living room: 827

Under my bed: 46

Guest room overflow: 212

Basement: 1008

At work: 348

TOTAL: 2,441*

(*Not including comics and graphic novels; otherwise, add 17,612 to
total. I only wish I was kidding. So does Her Lovely Self.)

Last Books I Bought:


The Staggerford Murders

Oscar Caliber Gun (by my man Henry. Ordered online. Still waiting)

Last Book(s) I Read:

(see last weekend's post)

Five that mean a lot:

The Case of the Nervous Newsboy
by E.W. Hildick

This was the first book I'd ever read from the McGurk mystery series. Jack McGurk and his neighborhood pals got into very ordinary, realistic, kid-focused situations that always turned into interesting mysteries, such as when the titular newsboy vanishes and the team must figure out what happened to him. The series first saw print in the UK and then was a series of paperbacks over here throughout the 1970s. They were weirdly hard to find and I didn't get what I thought was the complete set of 15 books until I was almost in high school. And then I found The Nose Knows (the prelude to the entire series) at a yard sale. And then I found a book in the UK that was never published in the US, perhaps because the team had to help protect a drunken midget (I'm serious), and US publishers balked. And THEN I found out Hildick kept cranking the books out well into 1998. So now, as far as I know, I have the whole set, and it only took me, what? 27 years?

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

Like, oh, a few million other people, this science fiction farce was a revelation to me, when I first heard the show re-broadcast on NPR in the early 80s. I found the first book shortly thereafter and re-read it only about 500 times. By then, it wasn't the novelty of a funny sci-fi book that had my attention, it was the way Adams put sentences together, made words collide in such a manner that you never forgot those sentences. No writer had so affected me before, and few have since. It was one of the few books I took with me on all my travels, and good thing too, since I had it on hand in grad school when I actually met Douglas Adams (about this more anon).

Of Time and An Island
by John Keats

No, not that John Keats. This John Keats was a well-respected newspaper editor and writer in Washington, D.C. during the post-war years. In 1948, he and his young wife had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy an island on the St. Lawrence River—complete with a main house, bunkhouse, and writing cottage on the point of the island. Price? $4000. That's not a typo: He bought it for four thousand dollars. A lot of coin in 1948, but look what it got him (boats included). This book recounts the Keats family's life in "island time," and the man's decision to become a full-time freelance writer, clacking away on his typewriter in his cottage at the tip of his own little country. If there's a more idyllic way to live a writing life, I'd like to know about it.

by Jon Hassler

Simple and simply brilliant story of a week in the life of a small Minnesota town, as told through such characters as Miles Pruitt, the high school English teacher, and his landlady, the indomitable Agatha McGee. Hassler's one of those gems of fiction not too many folks seem to know about (Garrison Keillor gets all the glory when it comes to charming, folksy Minnesota storytelling), but he's worth seeking out. If I could write a novel half as fine as this one, I think I could die content.

The Lost Continent
by Bill Bryson

Boy, this was a tough one. I was so close to putting Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days here. Or even A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney (which I read when I was 9 and thought it was cool someone could make a living writing down smart-ass remarks). But Bryson's work has probably had the greatest influence on me (in case you couldn't tell), and this was the first book of his I ever read. Everyone makes a deal of what a funny writer he is, and how wittily acerbic he is. He's both of those things, of course, but underneath the snide commentary, you never forget that the guy has got a core of decency, a real heart, and I think that's what makes his writing all the funnier. Also, I just finished re-reading TLC (took it on my road trip), and realized Bryson didn't write it til he was 37, my age. Gives me hope, it does.

Shit, do I really only get five?

One Book I'd Like to Burn

Oh man, that's easy. There's this godawful mystery/adventure novel about a guy who goes on a kind of international scavenger hunt to recover a lost Sherlock Holmes manuscript. It's a caper story that involves all sorts of chase scenes through London, Paris and Cairo (lots of people feinting and dashing, lots of baskets and newsstands falling over). It's set in the 1980s and the guy's a college student, but he's also the star on his school fencing team. Conveniently enough, all the bad guys he ends up running up against are likewise skilled in various forms of swordplay so there are absolutely pages and pages (and pages and pages) of swashbuckling fight scenes up and down assorted castle stairwells, atop moving buses, and even while both opponents are riding camels. It's so stupendously awful, the writer never actually managed to finish the book. I know, because the writer was me, at age 19. I've been looking for that 120-page manuscript for 10 years now, and the moment I find it, it's going to become a charcoal briquette. My great fear is that it actually made its way into the hands of an ex-girlfriend or roommate, where it could become a powerful blackmail tool. Keeps me up nights...

People I'd Like to See Waste Time on This

Nah, I better not. But anyone reading this who'd like to play along at home, feel free to do so.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Seriously? You bought OCG? Thanks, MM. Keep in mind that I was 20 when I wrote it.
Wow, that's a lot of books. I hope you don't have too many candles in your house. Whenever you decide to get rid of a few, please keep me and my future library in mind :)

(thanks for taking the time to do the meme thing, btw - they are kinda silly but I really enjoy seeing what other people read and recommend)
That is quite a few books - double my collection.

Anyway, thanks for the link - much appreciated.
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