Ma Beck tagged Mac (and all who drive on the left side of the road) and I begged Mac to tag me, so she did. This one made the rounds in the summer of 2006 and it looks like it's on a come back.
1. One book that changed your life.
Witness by Whittaker Chambers. It's his autobiography. He was born at the beginning of the 20th century in Philadelphia and was the pivotal figure in Alger Hiss-Wittaker Chambers cold war drama. As a youth he'd become dissaffected by modern society and like many of his generation attached himself to the communist party. He was vetted to go underground and came to know many agents, both homegrown and foreign, who infiltrated the highest levels of the US government. I came to know of him initially by reading William F. Buckley, Jr. Chambers eventually left the party and revealed the inner workings of the communist party in the US. If you want to know ideologically about the Cold War, and even its affect on American politics and global politics until today, for that matter, this book is *the* seminal tour de force. It details his ensnarment into the party, and his ultimate break from it and the reasons why. I give this one a good read about every other year or so. At heart, I'd always been an anti-communist, and this book taught me a lot of the American political left/right dynamic important in the 20th century. It's also somewhat of a spy thriller a fascinating look at one man's journey through the competing philosophies of the 20th century. Ideologically engaging, for all its length it's difficult to put down. This book also ideologically pushed Ronald Reagan from New Deal Democrat to Conservative.
2. One book that you've read more than once.
Odd question, as virtually most books I've liked I've read more than once. A perennial favorite for light reading is Life With Father. Its vignettes of family life in the Clarence Day family in the last quarter of the 19th century make you feel like you missed something by not knowing them personally. Father and Mother are larger than life and vividly portrayed. Stylistically the prose is elegant but unfussy.
3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.
If I was never going to get off that island: The bible. If I was going to get off the Island: Brideshead Revisited. Unforgettable characters, one for every type of Catholic and heathen alike.
4. One book that made you laugh.
Groucho and Me. It was the start of my love affair for all things theatrical. A friend of mine when I was 14 was a real Grouchophile. I read that book, his others, then about Vaudeville, and then books about theatre as as a whole. (Oh, and it was through reading Groucho's books that I came to Pepys. Odd what leads you from book to book(s)!)
5. One book that made you cry.
None. Ever. Promise. Though there have been books that have made me angry at the injustices of man to man - for instance the Diary of Anne Frank and Robert Conquest's books about the Great Terror in the Soviet Union when the kulaks et al were being liquidated. The Icon and the Axe by Billingsly was also very powerful.
6. One book that you wish had been written.
The Infallible Guide to Picking Winning Lottery Numbers if you've been Really, Really, Really Good -- by Jesus Christ. [Hang on a second while I move out of this easy chair and into an underground concrete bunker somewhere, I think I hear thunder and lightening in the distance, and I think we may be under bombardment by asteroids.]
7. One book that you wish had never been written.
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil. A more pretentious load of horsebleep I have never suffered through. I call it "The Book without Qualities." It was my last quarter in college, and for reasons it would now require a small fortune in psychiatric bills to conjure, I took a course in Austro-Hungarian-Middle European geopolitics from roughly Congress of Vienna through the early 20th century. The book was required reading. A few minutes ago when I looked up the sordid details in the wiki article about the book I was pleasantly pleased to find out that he and his family suffered grave poverty when he was writing his "masterwork." If he suffered even a hundreth what I did reading the damn thing, then I am well satisfied. Schadenfreude. It's what's for dinner.
I can't miss mentioning a close second: Simone de Beauvoir's Memoires d'une jeune Fille Rangee. (Memories of a Dutiful Daughter) In many ways it's a fascinating read, but one that was instrumental in a lot of nascient feminazi claptrap. Simone honey, equal pay for equal work and women being treated as if they had a brain in their heads is all great stuff. For that, right on, sistah. *BUT* you went off the rails with most of the leftist atheistic conclusions to which you came and screwed up forevermore men holding open doors for women without them having a seizure as to whether or not they would get their heads bitten off for doing so. Thanks a lot, b*tch!
8. One book that you're currently reading.
Lighter reading: Broadway Ancedotes by Peter Hay. I've been under so much stress about all I can manage is light reading. The one serious book I'm rereading right now is Raymond Brown's Introduction to the New Testament.
9. One book you've been meaning to read.
City of God by St. Augustine. You'd think I'd have read the thing by now. But noooooooo.... Can't tell if I start/stop because everytime I pick it up it's too reminiscent of the present or what. Ya think?
Tagging all bibliophiles out there who haven't done this one, or want to do it again. If you haven't got a blog of your own, feel free to use my com box. And if you do decide to do this meme, drop me a line in the combox I don't want to miss your picks.