I've been meme-tagged by someone who isn't even on Livejournal. Eeek. And then (and perhaps anticipating meme-reluctance) he made a gender issue of it, and I'm a sucker for affirmative action. So here goes:
Total Number Of Books I've Owned
I couldn't even begin to count. I've been gathering books since I was a teenagerm, have absorbed several other peoples' collections, bought masses from the Oxford Oxfam Bookshop (where I work on Saturday afternoons) and other second-hand sources, and on books that are special to me, often own multiple copies. I used to never buy new books, but in recent years this has relaxed. Fortunately I dislike most modern book covers, so I don't buy too many: much as I would like to read the new Murakami, not in that cover.
The Last Book I Bought:
Books 1-3 of Fruits Basket (affectionately known as Furuba to its friends), a martial arts comedy romance by Natsuki Takaya, anime from Tokyopop. Escapist world of mysterious, lovely boys with odd supernatural problems, and cute brave girls and their loyal, spooky friends. The sort of comic you wouldn't mind living in; plus it has chatty bits from the artist/writer, fun.
The Last Book I Read:
Prior to Fruits, Barefoot in the Head by Brian Aldiss, one of two apocalyptic SF pulps I took to a festival just in case it got dull (very dull - I ran out of books). Set in a slightly dated future where the Middle East had bombed Europe with LSD -- which (in a hippyish vein) Aldiss turns into a uplifting tale of humanity getting back to its agrarian roots. Bad ending, but the LSD roadtrip wordsalad stuff has its moments.
Five books that mean a lot to me:
Moominvalley in November - Tove Jansson
Weird tale of a bunch of misfit creatures who've heard the Moomins are cool, but arrive to find that they're away (actually off doing disturbing family drama Moominpapa at Sea). All the Moomin books tell children secrets about the way people really are, but this one tells the story I know best; absence, emptiness, confusion, unimportance.
De Profundis - Oscar Wilde
Usually bundled with The Ballad of Reading Jail in modern editions, which I don't like; but I have an old cloth-bound pocket edition I keep under my bed beside the bible and whatever else fetches up there. Poor old Oscar. But his meditation on the misery of confinement and the tranformative nature of friendship helped me through boarding school, many another crisis since.
The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the end of the World - Haruki Murakami
An old one by Murakami, this; a lighthearted and shamelessly funky descent-into-underworld SF thriller that suffers an odd, parasitic extra dimension. The ending is astonishing, bizarre and absolutely perfect. Delights me every time I read it.
The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman - Angela Carter
Top of my my extreme reading list is this perverse Gulliver-esque tale of a picaresque hero stumbling through a bleak, bizarre, cruel, and occasionally beautiful world of terrible and terrifying desire. Carter's sex apocalypse is a disquieting read, pulls no punches, lacks the soft fairytale glow that suffuses her later work, is all the better for it.
Vermillion Sands - J G Ballard
When I grow up and become properly fictional, I'm going to live in Vermillion Sands, artists' colony of the future, set in the Great Recess where unemployment is repackaged as leisure and the great and the good sit waiting in their desertified front yards for the return of fast time. Short stories about intelligent sculptures, ephemeral sculptors, vegetable divas ...
Pete installed an "honourable mention" category, so: The Harpist in the Wind trilogy by Patricia A Mckillip. Back when I had a lot of time, I used to read fantasy trilogies when I was feeling down or stressed. Now I don't have the time and I got rid of all that old stuff anyway. Except this one, which has everything, from the map in the front to the transcendent reckoning with destiny; and the whole trilogy clocks in at a lower page-count than your average chicklit or thriller. Hm. I wonder where it is...
Ruthlessly eclectic as ever, I see. 50/50 birds and blokes - on purpose? No, I'm telling the truth. jinty, if you've not done this yet, I tag you, plus anyone else who fancies a go at it.
Five books doesn't begin to cover it, but if I start listing what didn't make the list, I'll never stop, books are such a part of my life. Speaking of which, after the success of using House of Leaves (cheers for the loan, waistcoatmark) to prepare myself emotionally for buying a house, I'm looking for something in a similar vein but about DIY and home improvements. Any suggestions?
Another strip with Andy in it, this time by Matt Brooker (D'Israeli): that panel on Page 3 of Andy in the silver and feathers has been on my wall for years.