La Même Chose
Here's the meme:
How many books do you own? Hmmm...I just got rid of a bunch in preparation for moving. If I count all of mine in my library, the front room, and my office, and include my wife's but not my daughters -- I have no idea. I am amazed at the other folks who know that they have 638 books or whatever: do you guys keep them cataloged or something? In round figures, 1200-1500. Now and then someone will look at them and ask if I have read them all, and I respond to them in the words of Umberto Eco:"No, those are just the ones I have to read by Thursday!"
Last book I bought? We are in Ann Arbor for vacation and I just picked up On Belief by Slavoj Zizek (sorry I don't have the proper diacritical marks...I don't even know how to pronounce his name as he only exists for me via texts!), it looks quite interesting and I hope it will be an entree into his other works. I also got Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream By Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck. (New Urbanism and urban planning is a side interest of mine; I think that Christian anthropology naturally elides into these topics, as we are not unconcerned about the City of Man, even if it is not (or only a precursor to) the City of God.)) And thirdly (this is how I have 1200 books or so!), I am planning on picking up tonight after dinner a book entitled 60 Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but not the French by Jean Benoit-Nadeau and Julie Barlow for a little light reading on the side.
Last book I read? I don't know if I need to have finished a book for it to qualify. Right now I am reading a primer in German, Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (The first H.P. book, en Francais), and Oakes & Moss The Cambridge Companion to Hans urs Von Balthasar. If it is the last completed book, it is either Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or else American Pie: My Search for the Perfect PIzza.
As for books that mean a lot to me, frankly, this is the kind of question that I live for. Also, I can't possibly be expected to limit my list to five, even with the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer excepted. So I will give three lists of five (or so): a main list, an honorable mention list, and a fiction list.
Main List (no particular order):
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: This is the book that helped me put my finger on my growing uneasiness about philosophy in the enlightenment mode -- easily the best book I read in my entire philosophy program.
George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age: Now a classic, this one got me thinking differently about doctrine and its function; maybe more than that it got me thinking differently about the church.
Gregory of Nyssa, Address on Religious Instruction: The more I read the fathers, and especially the Cappadocians and Athanasius, the more profoundly impressed I am with them: with their grasp of the task of theology, with their care and concern for the church, with their thorough integration of worship and devotion into their lives. I think they are a challenge for our half ways of doing theology these days.
Stanley Hauerwas & William Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony: Well, actually almost anything that Stanley has written could be inserted here, too, but this was the first for me, and, as Lindbeck did too, got me thinking seriously about the church and what it might be with the proper discipline and imagination.
Rowan Williams, Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel: Again, choosing this one book over his others is more arbitrary than not -- it's a great one, but so are On Christian Theology and Arius: Heresy and Tradition and so much else he has written.
I can't believe that's five already, and I've left out such essential worthies as:
(Honorable Mention List)
John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory
David Ford, Self and Salvation
N.T. Wright, For All God's Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church (also the Christian Origins and the Question of God series.)
Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics
Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580
Roberta Bondi, To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church
Rodney Clapp, almost anything, but especially Families at the Crossroads
Michael Budde, The (Magic) Kingdom of God: Christianity and Global Culture Industries
William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ
William Placher, Domestication of Transcendence, and Unapologetic Theology,
James Cone, God of the Oppressed.
And how tedious that I haven't included any fiction! I read widely (as you have no doubt guessed from my answers to the earlier questions), so here are five more works of fiction that I simply must include:
J.K. Rowling, The Harry Potter series: I just discovered these this year, and I love them!
Garrison Keillor, Wobegone Boy: I really love Keillor and all his work, but this one stands out for me as maybe his best work
Chaim Potok, The Chosen: I love Potok and have read a number of his very moving novels; this was the first, and I picked it up by sheer whim and couldn't put it down until I was done.
John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever: Over the last ten years or so I have been exploring more "serious" American fiction a bit (including Saul Bellow, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Anne Tyler, and John Updike), as this was something of a lacuna in my undergraduate education. For me, Cheever stands out. I don't think he's "better", so much as his perspective -- at times cynical, at times naive, at times strangely indeterminate -- sort of haunts me. I also think I can tap into some of the suburban aesthetic that he celebrates and mourns, growing up in the 'burbs myself.
John Mortimer, The Rumpole books: I am a huge fan of mysteries, especially serials such as Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, and the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries. Rumpole is serialized, but they are not quite mysteries -- but still hugely entertaining.
I don't know if there are any rules about who and how many you can tag, but here's my list:
Thunder, Gaunilo, Peter, Andy, Clifton, and Jennifer. (And I think Caleb has been tagged recently -- but if not, consider yourself tagged.)
Holy Cats! I can't believe how much time this has taken -- and I'm on vacation! Time to get back to reading something else!