Music and Book Memes

The good news is that after a fair absence, Rick McGinnis appears to be reactivating The Diary Thing, which was a favorite stop of mine back in the day. So: Yay! The bad news is that his first post since reactiviating is that damn book meme that’s going on at the moment, and he’s “passed the baton” on to me. Normally I wouldn’t do this sort of crap, but because it’s Rick, and he is bringing back The Diary Thing, I’ll do it. Just this once. Also, as long as I’m doing the book one, I’ll jam the music one in as well, as I tagged by Dave Munger to do it a few days ago, and it would be unfair to do the book one and leave Dave hanging. Damn my sense of morals!

Books first:

Number of books I own: Good Lord. At this very moment, there’s probably somewhere between a thousand and two thousand books in the house in various stages of packed and shelved-ness, and we accrete them at the rate of at least two or three a week. Not all of those are mine, to be sure — Athena and Krissy both add up, Athena particularly gathering books at a furious rate (as it should be). We’d have more but I have a tradition of occasionally doing a library dump, which is to take books I haven’t read in a while and I know I won’t get to again soon and donate them to the local library. Over the years I’ve probably offloaded a couple thousand books this way.

Last Book I Bought: I just bought the entire Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey for Krissy, so aside from some books for Athena, those are the last books to show up on my credit card. The last book I bought from myself was The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, because so many people see so many similarities between it and Old Man’s War that I figure I ought to read it. However, I probably won’t actually read it until after I’m done with The Ghost Brigades.

Last Book I Read: Succession, the SF Book Club collection of the Scott Westerfeld novels The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds, which as it happens were written as one novel and then cut into two books as a marketing maneuver by the publisher. Whatever. As a single tale, it is pretty excellent, and I’m not just saying that because Scott’s a pal who reads the blog. A really nifty space opera, and I had fun going through the book looking for all the little elements I’m so totally going to steal at some point or another (“easy gravity”? Brilliant!). Outside the SF genre I’m currently reading Michael Cook’s A Brief History of the Human Race.

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:

1. Cosmos, by Carl Sagan: The best popular exploration of the universe and the history of the humans who explore it.

2. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin: Lovely writing. I read it for the joy of reading words at play.

3. Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein: I figure it’s the closest thing to having a conversation with Heinlein as I’m going to get.

4. A Mencken Chrestomathy and other Mencken collections, by HL Mencken: Smart, practical, snarky and less-over-the-top than you’ve been led to believe. And yes, someone who isn’t a damn conservative can immensely admire Mencken. This conservative co-option of Mencken would probably appall him (as would a liberal co-option attempt, should one ever be tried, which seems unlikely).

5. The People’s Almanac and its sequels, edited by Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky: Coming across this book when I was six kickstarted my intense desire to know as much about every possible thing as I could, a desire which remains to this day, and every day I thank God for it, because it’s sure made my life more interesting.

And now, the music meme:

Total volume of music files on your computer: 7,405 songs, 21.5 days, 35.98 GB. I’d note that this is but a fraction of the volume of music I own total, which is over two thousand CDs across most genres. What can I say, I’m lazy and I haven’t ripped them all.

The title and artist of the last CD you bought: Probably Everyone is Here by the Finn Brothers. But like many people, I’ve largely stopped buying CDs and download albums from iTunes. The last two albums I bought there, bought near-simultaenously, are Nine Inch Nail’s With Teeth and Weezer’s Make Believe.

Song playing at the moment of writing: “Instrumental” by Figurine. I’m listening to it off my Rhapsody streaming music service. Figurine sounds a bit like The Postal Service on an off day.

Five songs you have been listening to of late (or all-time favorites, or particularly personally meaningful songs): I’ll go the “recent” route:

“Yellow” by Bill Frisell & Petra Haden
“Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
“Perfect Situation” by Weezer
“Too Pieces” by Yaz
“Helpless” by kd lang

Passing the baton (for both music and books): Nah. If you want to do either, go ahead. I won’t put pressure on you, though. You hear me? NO PRESSURE.

16 Comments on “Music and Book Memes”

  1. And here I thought I was the only one who read the People’s Almanc cover to cover as a small child. A feature of my ninth birthday party (attended by a lot of budding geeks) was a perusal of the sex chapter.

  2. Ah yes, The Dictionary of sex and sex-related terms. I was the only six year old on the block that knew what a “clitoris” was. Well, theoretically, at least. The practical application of that knowledge was rather later.

  3. I like it. I mean, it’s Weezer-pop. It’s hard to mess up that formula too much.

  4. John —

    Since you’re an H. L. Mencken fan, you might appreciate Connie Willis’s novella “Inside Job,” which appeared in the Jan. 2005 Asimov’s. It’s about a psychic debunker, and the various sections of the story are preceded by relevant Mencken epigraphs.

  5. Ever read George R.R. Martin? The “Song of Ice and Fire” series is fantastic. The books are each as long as a Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” entry, except the characters are interesting and lots of stuff happens.

  6. I love that new NIN CD. I am particularly fond of track 6, oh and 8, but we can’t forget about 1 once it is half way through the song that is. I really like track 4, but it is gettting way too much airtime, so I am starting to burn out on it. Truth be told, I really enjoy about 12 out of the 13 songs and I am starting to warm up to track 7. IMHO this is the best NIN CD to date.

  7. JH says:
    Ever read George R.R. Martin? The “Song of Ice and Fire” series is fantastic. The books are each as long as a Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” entry, except the characters are interesting and lots of stuff happens.

    Mmmm, Song of Ice and Fire. Every 3 months or so, I forget about those books… for about 2 weeks. then I’m tickled by the fact that I’ve had a Feast for Crows on order from since April 2003. Whichever publishing genius decided to announce a publish date for that book well over 2 years early, really deserves a poke in the eye (the stick doesn’t need to be sharp).

    Also, it’s great fun to hand A Game of Thrones to somebody without any sort of warning. And then the next time they see you, they start babbling about what’s going on, and you get to imagine the color-changing and facial contortions you’re yourself going through to avoid giving anything away that hasn’t happened yet.

  8. Pardon my mistake… I ordered A Feast For Crows in December 2002, with an expected ship date of April 2003. Silly me!

  9. John – thanks very much for responding to my digital imposition; much appreciated, really. And to keep good faith, I’ll pretend I was tagged on the music thing and post something on the diary by next week. Just to keep the sense of obligation at a sort of simmering resentment, you know.

  10. If you’re interested in Carl Sagan, the man, you might wish to take a look at the soon-to-be released “Conversations with Carl Sagan.” It’s a collection of interviews with him put out by the University of Mississippi Press. My friend and sometime co-author Tom Head has pulled this together. Sure to be a riveting read if you a Sagan fan (and who’s not!).

  11. John, John, when are you going to read Little, Big already? People keep telling you, it’ll make Winter’s Tale look like a rehearsal.

  12. I think I accidentally deleted someone’s comment here. Sorry! If it was yours, please repost.

  13. Regarding Heinlein — earlier this week there was a post on Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor site with a link to a Heinlein site with an old Popular Mechanics article (with photographs) of Heinlein’s Colorado Springs house. I found it fascinating…

    Like Scott I’ve been impatiently waiting for George R.R. Martin’s much-delayed 4th installment in his Fire & Ice series…. beginning to wonder if the true fantasy in this novel is whether it will ever appear. The advantage to somebody just beginning this series now is that by the time they read through the thousands of pages of the first three books, the fourth one might actually be available.

  14. You know, I keep hearing good things about George R.R. Martin, but it’s statements like this:

    The books are each as long as a Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” entry

    That keep me away. Plus, Cheryl Morgan over at Emerald City recently reported that the next book in the series will only cover half the characters. There can’t possibly be any justification for this kind of verbosity, I don’t care how good a writer Martin is.

  15. I have been religiously giving away my copies of “Winter’s Tale” for years. Very few people I give a copy to have ever heard of it and I usually do not get the book back either :)

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