I've tagged myself on a book meme at Ello's. I'm about a month late on the tagging, but I usually do get around to things eventually.
So first question. Total number of books?
This must mean that I own. Currently, not too many. Must be less than a hundred. Probably about three bookshelves. This is a huge change from pre-grad school days. When we had to sell everything to move here, we had to use a pick-up truck to take all our books to the public library as donations. I think we had about seven full-height bookcases. Maybe eight. Yes, that is where my discretionary income used to go.
Last Book read?
I spent almost all day reading, but I didn't read anything front to back. Instead, I read major portions of The Mind's Arrow: Bayes Nets and Causation (or a similar title) by Clark Glymour. Also, this edited collection called Causality in Crisis or some such. I scanned two chapters of Statistics for Social Scientists as well.
Last Book Bought?
Hm. Good question. Maybe this history on Japanese-American regiments in WWII, perhaps called "Just Americans". I think there's something more recent though; however, those might just be books for B. I should stop doing these blog entries in the dark.
Five meaningful Books?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. No surprise here. Actually, I'm not sure if it's profoundly meaningful, but I do read it almost annually.
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. This is one of Lewis' last works. It's a study of love in all its forms told using the Cupid and Psyche myth - romantic, familial, friendship, and divine. It's also an exploration of the idea of divinity itself and how all else falls away in the presence of the truly divine. The end, in which Cupid appears, is the closest thing I've read to approximate what it might be like to encounter God.
Norse Myths by Roger Lancelyn Green. I've carried this little book around since I was perhaps 10 years old. It's hard to say that the myths themselves are individually amazing stories, though perhaps they are. I think it's instead the entire vision of the world in play, with the foresight of Ragnarok in which almost all of the world will perish.
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. This is the classic defense of the doctrine that government should stay out of people's way unless that person is harming others. This critically includes times when the individual is harming himself. I would perhaps be a typical modern liberal if Mill's classic liberalism wasn't in the back of my mind. Mill is a fascinating person, by the way. Apart from On Liberty, he, among other things, published the most influential account of utilitarianism in ethics, which is the idea that ethics should be based upon the greatest happiness for the greatest number. He also wrote "On the Subjection of Women" which is one of the very first tracts in English to suggest that women might indeed by subjugated at all and that they should not be. It includes essentially an argument for the equality of the sexes. There were precursors to this - Mary Wollstonecraft perhaps if my dates aren't wrong - but Mill was quite influential, already being a member of parliament and one of the most famous intellectuals of the day.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This is really a stand in for almost all of his apologetic work. He hasn't convinced me yet, but he writes with an insight and clarity that I find rewarding. It doesn't mean he's correct, but he is constructive.