book tag

Playing “Book Tag” and I got tagged by Cozy Blog.

1. How many books have I owned?
Tough question. Most of the books that I have ever bought are still on my bookshelf. I would say under 150 books since I realized pretty early on that I rarely finish books that I start – and if I do it sometimes takes years. I purchased more books when I lived/worked in NYC since the subway commute was a great opportunity to read and shut-out the world. The books that I own are mostly travel books and art/design books.

2. What was the last book you bought?
I think the last book I bought was Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf by comedian/actor/golfer Bill Murray. I bought it on a recent venture into SoHo at the Used Book Cafe – an old favorite of Kate and myself. I haven’t even cracked the pages yet. Saving it for a rainy day, I suppose.

3. What was the last book you read?
Not sure… but the last book I FINISHED would be The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson. Bryson get’s in his old beat-up car and leaves his mother’s house in Iowa and drives a large oval around the USA hunting for the perfect small town. He never finds it. Bryson first captured my attention in his book A Walk in the Woods about his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, and I’ve been a fan of his quirky sense of humor and laissez-faire attitude toward his subject matter ever since. His genre puts him the travel author section, yet his books are so much more than travel books. I will admit that I got his book A Short History of Nearly Everything on Audio CD to listen to while flying around the country on business trips and lost interest fast. I think mostly because his soothingly odd hybrid accent (from being raised in Iowa and then living for many years in the UK) put me to sleep and it’s really a book to pay close attention to.

4. What are FIVE books that have meant a lot to you? (no particular order here…)

  1. The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford about the race to the South Pole in 1911 between Britain’s famous Robert Scott and Norway’s legend Fridtjof Nansen’s protege Roald Amundsen. “Scott, who died along with four of his men only 11 miles from his next cache of supplies, became Britain’s beloved failure, while Amundsen, who not only beat Scott to the Pole but returned alive, was largely forgotton.” It’s a gripping story presented by the world’s foremost expert on the subject. This is also the only work on this subject in the English language. In the same Modern Library Exploration series is Farthest North written by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen in 1897. Nansen and his crew set sail for the North Pole in 1893 in a ship specially designed to be frozen into the polar ice cap, withstand it’s crushing pressures (by popping up out of the ice and resting atop) and then drift along on top of the ice cap until it reached the pole. Unfortunately, the ship missed it’s mark and when Nansen realized this, he set out on a 15-month sledge journey to reach the pole by foot They traveled 146 miles farther North than any Westerner had gone before. It was an amazing feat made even more amazing by Nansen’s first-person account. Both of these books stirred my inner-explorer and made me hunger to see and do amazing things in my own life.
  2. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. A first-person account of a devestating, deadly disaster atop Mt. Everest in May of 1996. This book put Krakauer on the map in a very big way, but in my opinion, he has even better books. Among them Eiger Dreams, Into the Wild and his latest book, Under the Banner of Heaven (which is only a quarter finished…). I chose ITA above the others because I have fond memories of reading it to my new bride in our B&B room in Kittery, Maine. She was sick from too many mosquito bites and so I read to her. It was a nice moment. Jon Krakauer has the uncanny ability to put you, the reader, on top of the same mountain, under the same tree, smelling the same dirt he was standing on when he experienced it. That’s why I like his stuff.
  3. The Quotable Climber edited by Jonathan Waterman. It’s a collection of some of the “most fascinating, evocative, and humorous comments on the subject by climbers, adventurers, explorers and pioneers both from today and the past. I’ve used several quotes on my blogs in the past. It was one of the few books I’ve read cover to cover. I just couldn’t put it down. Each quote opened my mind to a new perspective, a new story or a funny quip.
  4. Switching veins completely would be Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, written and illustrated by Chris Ware. “Bought up as an only child by an over-protective mother, with only his fantasies about superheroes for company, Jimmy is now a middle-aged loner working as an office dogsbody in Chicago. He has just received a letter from his estranged father, inviting him to spend Thanksgiving with him.” This is kind of a strange pick for this, since it is technically a Graphic Novel, but I think it qualifies. The art deco, retro, hyper-detailed illustrations are eye-candy on heroin and the story is told clearly, simply and wonderfully. This should be in everyone’s collection.
  5. Grendel by John Gardner. The ancient text of Beowulf told from the monster Grendel’s point of view. Powerful story of a mother’s love and life lessons in so many areas. Truly an eye opener as a budding young reader.

5. Honorable Mentions

  • The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten
  • A History of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs
  • Looking Closer 2: Critical Writings on Graphic Design
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev (the counter-story to Krakauer’s Into Thin Air)
  • Love Me by Garrison Keillor (writer and radio personality)
  • Who’s Your Caddy? by Rick Reilly (Sports Illustrated sportswriter)
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr

6. What I Should Read
I am certainly short on some classics and most of the classics I have read were not retained into memory. I’d love to be able to read poetry, since it is so creative and free… but it mostly just annoys me. I should read more books on faith and God… but those tend to annoy me too. The problem isn’t really WHAT I should read, but WHEN I should read. If I had the time in my life to read books, than I’m sure I could find something worthwhile to read.

Tag! You’re IT!
Scott Hodge @
Digi-Girl @ Run With Scissors
Brandon @ Blog-O-Baker
Abe @ AbeSavona