Booking Through Thursday: Books, Books, and More Books

OK, it’s been a long time since I rock-and-rolled with Booking Through Thursday, so here it goes again:

What’s the largest your personal library has ever been? What’s the greatest number of books you’ve ever owned at one time? (Estimates are fine.)

Is your collection NOW the biggest it’s ever been? Or have you down-sized?

What’s the fewest number of books you’ve ever owned (not counting your pre-reading years)?

My estimate is that my library, at its largest, probably hit 400 books — I’ve never counted.

My best estimate now is that it ranges around 300 books, maybe  more, maybe less. I’ve sold and traded some during recent moves, although I’ve also bought some, too.

I’d probably have to say, oddly enough, I had the fewest books when I was in college. Textbooks, of course, I didn’t keep. And sometimes I sold back stuff I liked for necessities like beer.

Then again, maybe I had a pretty decent library then, too. Perhaps it only seemed small because most of the books I had were paperbacks, and they don’t take up as much room.




An an alien invasion with a twist

Childhood's EndChildhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the most common — if not the most common — tropes of science fiction is the alien invasion story. Its so common, now, its cliche. Still, it shows up, especially in movies and on TV.

Though the stories are commonplace, a staple of the genre, when those stories are well told, and not just shoot-’em-ups (that style has its place too, though, along with a tub of popcorn) they often give you a perspective of humanity’s direction, its potential, and even its faith in itself as a species to survive.

Arthur C. Clarke’s classic Childhood’s End does just that. It’s an alien invasion story with a twist. When the aliens — the Overlords — come, when their massive ships park over our skies, those ships don’t erupt with explosive death rays to blow up buildings, nor do they blow up the planet itself to, say, make way for a hyperspace bypass. Instead, the Overlords, essentially do nothing for years, except observe.

Well, observe, and then direct. Though the Overlords don’t initially show themselves, they do, however, make contact with humanity, and, in turn, indirectly begin to shape humanity’s course, bringing about world peace, and establishing a near-utopian society. As the Overlords establish this utopia, their true purpose unveils itself: Earth is something of an experiment, one conducted not by the Overlords, but by a God-like being, the Overmind. The Overlords, it turns out, are no more than servants and errand boys sent by the Overmind to carry out its purpose, to draw humanity into its being.

Clarke plays with multiple themes common to SF: utopia and dystopia, the limits of science and technology, for example. He asserts, through these genre commonplaces, that humanity is responsible for itself; its future can be either bleak and apocalyptic or it can be, if not utopian, at least worthwhile. We cannot, Clarke seems to suggest, lose faith in ourselves.

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Books Bought, Books Read: June 2011 Edition (So Far)

OK, decided to re-up a meme. The idea is pilfered from Nick Hornby’s wonderful book about the joys of reading and acquiring books The Pollysyllabic Spree.

Books Bought thru June 1–June 20, 2011

  • Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
  • Minority Report by Philip K. Dick
  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • The City & The City by China Mieville
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Halting State by Charles Stross

Books Read, June 1–June 20, 2011

  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick’s kind of become an obsession. Also trying to read and collect the SF Masterworks  (the photo link is not my collection, but I wish it was ) put out by Gollancz (Oh, by the way, I have a birthday coming up in July. Hint, hint).

Also, I’m not being a good Buddhist at all (not that I’ve ever declared myself a Buddhist officially), given I’ve skipped meditation a few times lately, have imbibed some intoxicating drinks in recent days, and find myself too deeply attached to reading and acquiring books to ever renounce this particular form of sweet suffering.

Dear Blog: Sorry for the Neglect

Dear Blog and Blog Reader:

Sorry for the neglect over the past few weeks. There are times I’ve meant to write interesting posts like the one I had in mind of defending genre fiction, science fiction in particular. I’ll put a link here to China Mieville doing a good job of that, or parts of this piece in The Guardian do so.

I really have intended to write more here. But things were happening that weren’t so great. Or maybe they were. I ran away; I came home; I moved to a new place; I don’t know what to make of all that, except to say my Memorial Day weekend was interesting and maybe one day I can write about it.

Speaking of writing, Blog, one chief reason I’ve been neglectful is because I’ve been writing, almost daily, with a few interruptions (see above). When I get on writing jags, I tend to neglect you.

I’ll try to be more attentive, Blog. But I won’t make any promises.