Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Book Meme 2

In response to Jim's tag (and in honor of Ann Bartow, for a great idea for the blawgosphere to generate some good reading suggestions), here is my response to the book meme:

1. One book that changed your life? Probably Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk, which is one of the most eloquent and realistic spiritual autobiographies I've ever read. Norris spent about nine months in a Benedictine Abbey, and all manner of powerful insights ensued. It's the best argument for a "retreat" from the daily grind that I've ever read, and the few times I've taken it to heart I've been richly rewarded.

2. One book you have read more than once? Not many in this category, I'm more extensive than intensive. Probably several parts of Rawls's Theory of Justice, Taylor's Philosophy of the Human Sciences, and Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step. [Together these make one "average sized" book!]

3. One book you would want on a desert island? The Bible. [I think this question should be changed to reflect new digital storage media...how about "one iPod playlist" for the desert islance? or one "The Great Ideas" collection burned onto a flash drive, with searchable syntopicon?]

4. One book that made you laugh? Frederick Crews, The Pooh Perplex. You will never read lit crit the same way again.

5. One book that made you cry? Probably the end of George Eliot's Middlemarch, on how Dorothea and Lydgate end up distracted from their true callings. Or maybe it was Robert Coles's commentary on that aspect of Middlemarch.

6. One book you wish had been written? David K. Shipler, Invisible: The Working Poor in America. (Actually, Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickled and Dimed is far more entertaining, but I know I'm incapable of writing that well! The last chapter of that Ehrenreich book is a must-read.)

7. One book you wish had never had been written? Lee Silver, Remaking Eden. He basically says that we should applaud (or acquiesce to) a biotechnological future approximating Gattaca. Don't we all agree Brave New World is a *bad* outcome?

8. One book you are currently reading? Deen Chatterjee, ed., The Ethics of Assistance: Morality and the Distant Needy. Judith Lichtenberg's essay Absence and the Unfond Heart: Why People are Less Giving than they Might Be is very insightful.

9. One book you have been meaning to read? Franz Wright, Walking to Martha's Vineyard.

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