Joe over at beppeblog tagged me about three or so weeks ago for the book meme that has been snaking around the blogosphere, and now I'm finally getting around to doing it. And Joe's not entirely correct that I'd rather be doing anything but reading. Actually, I have a ton of books I haven't read and would like to read but my brain has been too mushy to bother lately. However, once I recouperate from this latest relapse, one of the things that's helped me accept the leisurely life I am now ordained to have is that I'll get to read a lot. You know, I've always wished I had time to do nothing but read. Well, now I have it.
So, here we go...
What is the total number of books you own? My best guess using a highly dubious form of estimation involving averages by number of shelves is about 1100 or so, if you include cookbooks, reference books, Arabic textbooks (my godfather says that taking Arabic is like starting a heroin addiction -- first you start out thinking if I can just get a little more, another class or another Arabic textbook, and in the end you're just bitter, strung out, and still unable to even read a newspaper after six years but have a shelf full of Arabic textbooks). In order to fit so many books into my 400 or so sq ft. apartment, my dad hung several shelves down two walls, as well as a fifteen foot long shelf that runs along underneath the ceiling (that one holds mostly novels as well as some plays and poetry).
I'm vain about two things: my library (particularly the Middle East section) and my chocolate chip cookies (people help me move for a batch). Yes, I have a pathetic life.
What was the last book you bought? Frida Kahlo: The Brush of Anguish by Martha Zamora. I just bought this book last week at Powell's after I picked up my new glasses (see the last post) as it was just a few blocks down from the shop. It's a large, hardcover translated abridgement of Zamora's biography that includes 75 of Kahlo's paintings.
What was the last book you read? Prayer of the Cosmos by Neil Douglas-Klotz. This is a tiny book in which Douglas-Klotz re-translates the Our Father and the Beatitudes from the Aramaic in which Jesus would have spoken them.
What are five books that mean a lot to you?
Beloved by Toni Morrison. I don't think a week goes by when I don't think of that sermon Baby Suggs, holy, gives in the forest. "...In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard...You got to love it, you!...This is flesh I'm talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved..." As a woman living in a society where I've been told from the time I was born that I should never like my body the way it is, whether from my mother, doctors, or advertisements, this was one of the most empowering passages I ever read. "Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it." Indeed they don't. They objectify it. Judge it. Take blood from it. And like Baby Suggs, holy, teaches, I gotta love it. Love it hard.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is the book that has kept me a Christian. Particularly during one of Father Zosima's speeches where he says, "God took seeds from the other worlds and sowed them on this earth, and raised up his garden; and everything that could sprout sprouted, but it lives and grows only through its sense of being in touch with other mysterious worlds; if this sense is weakened or destroyed in you, that which has grown up in you dies." I cannot prove the existence of God. I cannot answer the question of why a benevolent, omnipotent God allows so much suffering (and neither does Dostoyevsky really). But I know that, whether it's just that my "god spot" is over developed or that I refuse to give up what I was acculturated into as a child or whatever, if that sense of being in touch with other mysterious worlds is weakened or destroyed in me, something vital in me would die. Plus, the family in this book is almost as dysfunctional as mine. Almost.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I first read this book in eighth grade and have lived my childhood vicariously through Scout every since. My copy is a well-worn paperback I bought at a garage sale for a quarter. I have more than gotten my quarter's worth.
Being Human by Solihin Thom, Alicia Thom, and Alexandra ter Horst. I don't know if this book would get as prominent a mention a year from now, but at the moment I'd have to say it's definitely had a significant impact on my thinking and faith. It's also a book I would say has kept me a Christian even though it strives to be non-denominational. The authors do a great job of synthesizing neuroscience, biology, comparative religion, and pyschology to create a model for understanding the Self. While it can feel sort of New Agey and simplistic, I found it very helpful. I think it's what helped me come to the resolution regarding my faith that I talked about in this post, along with Wrestling with the Ox by Paul Ingram, which I've only managed to get about half way through yet.
Prayers of the Cosmos by Neil Douglas-Klotz. Yes, I know it was the last thing I read, but seriously, this is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. It sounds cheesy to say, but it was like I could actually hear Christ speaking, if, for no other reason than Douglas-Klotz gives the Aramaic transliteration of the texts. Along with his translation notes, he also includes "body prayers" or guided meditations on each line in the Our Father and the Beatitudes. And those translation notes, which are only a paragraph or two long (you get the first in that link above), have so much meat that my mind is still chewing on it and reading it over and over (well, yeah, and my short term memory sucks). It's now become my "hardest working book" per Sylvia's addition to this book meme as it's now apart of my daily prayers as well as meditation time. And I sooo wanna learn Aramaic now. I mean, I've got Arabic and Hebrew (well, sorta) so it should be a breeze, right?
Of course, the Bible has always been an important part of my life as I've got a lot of it memorized (thanks to my gray-shirt clad youth spent in AWANA), but it feels odd to list a sacred text, whether it be the Qu'ran, the Torah, or the Bhagavad Gita as a mere book, so I guess I'm adding it as the super text above the five.
Right, so I'm supposed to tag others and requst that they do this on their blog, should they so choose. Most of my blogging friends have already done this meme but I think a few that haven't would include Annie and her husband Paul, David (who might have already done this meme and I missed it), and my sister Tammy. If Trickgnosis is reading, I'd be curious to see what he'd list too.