book meme break


Packing is killing my creativity. So today's post is a meme response, courtesy of Weez.

Total number of books I've owned
Shit. Thousands. Impossible to count. I'm the daughter of two professors, I'm a librarian by training, and I'm a packrat. There are probably at least 1000 in the house right now, many of them boxed in the study waiting to be moved to the basement.

Last book I bought
Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life
I walked into Borders last week on a whim, and this book caught my eye. I thought I remembered Joi writing about this Japanese concept of imperfection as beauty some time ago (but I can't find any evidence of it now...). I picked it up and started leafing through it, and loved what I saw. I ended up buying two for myself, and one to give to my son Lane.

Last book I read
See above. Also Blink by Malcom Gladwell, A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, and Getting Things Done by David Allen. (Am I a trend-follower, or what?)

Five books that mean a lot to me
Hmmm. This is hard.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Juster
I loved this book as a kid because of the sense of escapism that it provided. I loved it again as an adult, when I found more nuance in it, and then used quotes from the book to open each of my dissertation chapters. For example, for my chapter discussing qualitative vs quantitative approaches to my research topic, I used this passage:

Words and numbers are of equal value, for, in the cloak of knowledge, one is warp and the other woof. It is no more important to count the sands than it is to name the stars. Therefore, let both kingdoms live in peace.

The Last Fine Time, by Verlyn Klinkenborg
This is an extraordinary book, beautifully written, chronicling life in a working-class Polish neighborhood and bar in Buffalo during the 50s and 60s. It is the only book I can ever remember rationing in order to savor it...I didn't want it to end, so I'd only allow myself a few pages each night so that I could make it last. It's the best book you've never read.

Illusions, by Richard Bach
From the sublime to the ridiculous, I suppose. While Klinkenborg's book is a beautiful masterpiece, Bach is a writer of pop-culture bubblegum spirituality. Nonetheless, I read Illusions at a time when I some of its ideas really affected me. I still have it (I'm a packrat librarian, remember?), though I haven't read it in a long, long time.

The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, by Sherry Turkle
I first saw this book mentioned in The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog a Whole Earth Catalog book on communications (which I think was written by Howard Rheingold, but I can't find it online--I know it's in a box upstairs somewhere!) in 1990, and checked it out of the library. I fell in love with it, but it was already out of print. I ended up buying two copies at a used bookstore in Charlottesville, VA. It changed my view of the world of technology and made me want to study the way people used technology to make sense of themselves and their worlds. I'm delighted to see it's back in print, in a 20th anniversary edition. (I got a chance to meet Sherry Turkle at a PopTech conference a few years ago, and had her sign my book at the time. One of the highlights of my professional life thus far was being invited to a symposium last year in which she also participated.)

Sonnets from the Portuguese, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love this book? No need to count the ways. Is there any more eloquent depiction of romantic love?

Five people I'm sending this meme to
Clay Shirky, Seb Paquet, Caterina Fake, Foe Romeo, and Joi Ito.


I almost had Illusions on my list as well. There are key passages/lessons that still are in mind. One is that the bottom feeders of a river looked up at the one that had let go and thought that this free floating one of them was an angel or messiah. The other was that one could find enlightenment anywhere if one just allowed themselves to look...the telephone book may hold some spiritual key if you're open to it.

The sublime can be in small things as well as in weighty tomes.

The Phantom Tollbooth! Now that brings back memories... Read the book and saw the movie a few times while growing up. An excellent story, and as you've pointed out a great source for quotes too.

interesting mix and interesting sampling of ones life: one has different moods, interests, and emotions over a life time of collecting and archiving: the selections now seem to be an imperfect sonnet in itself: the blog audience views a Pollock like packing, engaged in the motions of packing sentimentality. Each cover a series of moments with the self, and reflective of prior creative movements of the soul.

Now there is the practical efficiencies of moving, of organizing, and being confronted with so many memories.

Its very brave to just pick up and move somewhere else: my wife and I could never do that. I guess I view this experience vicariously.

good luck in the move:

stef there >>>are

grammar grammar grammar

where art thou correctness and

wise moments not sped

I think I need to find a Getting-Things-Done self-help group. (Maybe it's like a recovery group. "Hi, my name's dennis and I'm a great student but I don't move from study to producing the result." or something like that.) Any tips?

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This page contains a single entry published on June 16, 2005 8:19 AM.

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