Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tag Meme on Books!

Bill at Integral Options Cafe tagged me with the followed neat tag meme.

One book that changed your life?
I really have to cite two here that work in conjunction: Richard Dawkins's Selfish Gene and Blind Watchmaker. These two books taught me the wonder, the awe-inspiring beauty, that exists in a world in which we need not create the idea of a creator god to enjoy.

One book you have read more than once?
I'm going to claim the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, Return of the King) in this section. These three books function as one—and actually were one, but Tolkien's publisher made him break it up under the fear that nobody would buy it otherwise. If this trilogy didn't take so long to read, I would read it once every 6 months.

One book you would want on a desert island?
Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. I would claim the entire Pali canon (the canon of early Buddhist literature), but this is calling for one book, and I think the Middle Length Discourses packs the greatest punch per page. All the early Buddhist teachings, the closest thing to a meditation teacher, and spiritual verse to contemplate—exactly what I'd like to spend my time reading.

One book that made you laugh?
Imajica by Clive Barker. The book was not particularly humorous, but its prose, its situations, and its characters had me smiling and laughing out of wonder, really enjoying myself.

One book that made you cry?
I can't recall a book that fully brought me to tears, but one of my current books, When Elephants Weep, has several sad stories of people's treatment of animals in the name of experimentation. It brought me about as close to tears as I can remember when I read that researchers restrained dogs and then proceeded to electrically shock them to induce helplessness and apathy. Then they proceeded to test the apathy and actually figured out that if they shocked the restrained dogs at least 4x per week, the dogs would just lay and whimper on an electric shock plate when not restrained, continuing to be shocked, making no effort to escape, having been conditioned to "learned helplessness."

One book you wish you had written?
Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces. The book is a wonder of scholarship and mythological information that transcends individual religions. It's an amazing work that should be on everybody's reading list—especially those of a religious bent.

One book you wish had never been written?
I'm with Bill on this one. I think all books have a right to be written, regardless of content.

One book you are currently reading?
As with Bill, I'm reading a number of books currently. To name the three that are currently occupying my time: When Elephants Weep by J.M. Masson and S. McCarthy, What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr (I would strongly recommend this one as a wonderful, lay-person readable work on the state of the art in evolutionary biology), and Ever Since Darwin by one of the most amazing writers I've ever read, Stephen Jay Gould.

One book you've been meaning to read?
Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett. It's a somewhat difficult philosophical tome that I'm promising myself I will pour through in the next year. It discusses the implications of Darwinism and the brilliance of the theory philosophically.

Now it's time to pass this meme on (and all readers of this blog should know what a meme is! It's a replicator!!) So on that note, Angela, Jon, Don, and Dan: TAG!

Everyone else, please feel free to share your books in the comments. I find some of my best reads from others' recommendations.

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Angela said...

Thanks for the tag! Here are my answers!