Book-meme time

June 20th, 2005 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

A friend ‘tagged’ me with a book meme – the idea being that I post my answers to some questions, so here goes:
Number of Books
Here in Urbana I’ve got around 460 books (and 40-something on loan from libraries). Back in Ireland I’m not sure how many I have – probably not the same number again, maybe around 200. Then there’s 50 or more books in electronic form – pdf downloads or the like – but they don’t really count, do they?
Last book I bought
This is a tough one. I’ve stayed out of bookshops, and away from Amazon, this year, as part of my budgetary-restraint attempts. Not wholly successful, but it does mean I can’t remember the last book I bought – probably a gift for someone at Christmas. The last book for which I can see a record was Rupert Brown’s Prejudice: its social psychology (which was for someone else).
Last book I read
This is easy. This morning I scanned Anne Branscomb’s 1985 pamphlet, Who Owns Information? That probably doesn’t count, due to its length, so before that I read Wilhelm’s Digital Nation. I’m reading little by way of fun (other than online) at the moment.
Books that mean a lot to me
The Grapes of Wrath and Ulysses are always top of my list. In different ways they treat of ordinary people and events in an epic form. I’ve been thinking recently of this concept in relation to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh (so I’d have to include here the Collected Poems Sabryna gave me). Many readers will be unfamiliar with his work, so here’s a taste:

I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided, who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting ‘Damn your soul’
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the lot defying blue cast-steel –
‘Here is the march along these iron stones’
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrish and Gortin
Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row: Gods make their own importance.

In media studies, coming – by chance – across an old copy of Bagdikian’s Media Monopoly (I think in Charlie Byrne’s, Galway’s jewel of a bookshop) was a revelation. Follow that with Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, where again I must thank Sabryna for my (autographed) copy.

I also like to keep copies of the dictionaries of Ó Dónaill and De Bhaldraithe by my desk, to encourage use of Irish – either reading from Foinse or writing, very occasionally, on funferal.

Passing it on
Hmm, here’s where it’s tricky. I don’t like imposing on people with these things (and there are only certain people who will appreciate a book meme – though granted my acquaintances are more likely to fall into the category). Anyone want to step up?

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