At long last. See the fun below the fold.
1. One book that’s changed your life
All the good ones change your life in some way, but I’ll give this to Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. It convinced me that fascinating as I find the problems of philosophy to be, it made more sense to spend my time trying to apply the skills I learned thinking about them to the problems of the world than to the problems themselves.
2. One book that you have read more than once
In part because it’s conveniently brief, I’ve read Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time on several occasions. It’s also a great book, capturing a particular time and place but also speaking to contemporary circumstances with what strikes me as remarkable force.
3. One book you would want on a desert island.
Something about desert survival, right? Alternatively, a really long novel. War and Peace — it’s good.
4. One book that made you cry.
I shed tears at the drop of a hat. One particularly amusing story is that some years after reading The Velveteen Rabbit I was actually diagnosed with scarlet fever and started bawling inconsolably because I thought they were going to burn all of our toys. That turns out not to be the preferred treatment of modern medicine (antibiotics work), but it took some time to convince me.
5. One book that made you laugh.
People kept telling me I’d find The Russian Debutante’s Handbook hilarious and it turned out to be . . . hilarious. Absurdistan, too. But actually a lot of books.
6. One book you wish had been written.
Well, I hardly know of every book that’s ever been written, so it’s a bit hard to say. In my experience, though, there doesn’t seem to be a good, serious book-length treatment of the Clinton years in American politics that really evaluates what happened there rather than grinding axes.
7. One book you wish had never been written.
This one has to go to Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America, which I’ve found myself pretending to have read many, many times over the years. The lying makes me feel bad, but I don’t really want to read it either (it’s so long!). I actually have read The Old Regime, his other book, and it’s quite good.
8. One book you are currently reading.
Michael Berube’s What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts. I actually thought I finished this one last week, but there turns out to be a final chapter I’d neglected.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read.
The Corrections. It’s good, right? I should read it.