I knew it was coming. Melanie has tagged me with the one book meme, answering a series of questions about significant books. It seems such a Catholic intellectual thing to do.
- One book that changed your life: “The Hobbit”, definitely. I first read this in 4th or 5th grade, I think, and it was the first “grown up” book I read. I recall it had been sitting on my mom’s bedside table unread and I picked up and started leafing through it. When I asked her if I could read it, she said okay. Little did I know…
- One book that you’ve read more than once: Which brings us to “The Lord of the Rings,” which I first read in sixth grade and read at least once per year for the next six years and have read more than 16 times since. I’ve worn out three sets of paperbacks and I’m now on the one-volume red-leather slipcovered “Red Book of Westmarch” collector’s edition my mom gave me for my birthday several years ago. I also have the Millennium Edition, that I had to order from Amazon UK, which has each of the individual books as separated by Tolkien (nine of them) in their own hardcovers. Yeah, I’m a fanatic.
- One book you’d want on a desert island: Sticking with the spirit of this meme, I won’t repeat an answer and will try for an original book. No, sorry, I have to be honest, it would be the “Lord of the Rings,” although a close second would be “The Silmarillion”.
- One book that made you laugh: There were many funny scenes in the the Aubrey/Maturin novels, but I can’t think of one, so I’ll name the single funniest scene in a book I ever recall. “The Right Stuff” had a scene in which the prospective astronauts had to undergo certain kinds of physical exams and the descriptions were so funny I had to put down the book. Hey, I was a teenager with an immature sense of humor (as opposed to being an adult with one now.)
- One book that made you cry: I don’t think I’ve ever cried while reading a book, but I was deeply moved by the self-sacrifice in Terry Brooks’ “The Elfstones of Shannara.” I also pined away terribly for my very own telepathic dragon from Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern.” I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have the same reactions today.
- One book that you wish had been written: Most definitely, Patrick O’Brian’s unfinished Aubrey-Maturin novel sold in partial manuscript form today as “21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey.”
One book that you wish had never been written: I’ve seen several people mention “The Da Vinci Code,” which is a very good choice. But
I would have to say Tom Clancy’s “Red Rabbit” because it was such a bad book and such a waste of Clancy’s abilities, a Jack Ryan storytelling opportunity, and my precious funds. It’s about the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. Yeah, I know how that turned out. No suspense there.
- One book you’ve been meaning to read: My whole unread-book shelf, but to pick one book, it would be Ratzinger’s “The Spirit of the Liturgy”. I’ve heard so much about it and just haven’t gotten around to it.