20 August 2006

Me' Bookish Lad

Tagged by MCAryeh w/ the book meme that's floating around. (I still haven't made good on the four meme that he tagged me with. Do memes have a shelf life? I hope so.) Throughout, I take 'one' to mean 'one or more.'

1. One book that changed your life?
Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Gershom Scholem
It's a long story, but in short - 3am inspired by the Chassidei Ashkenaz gave up smoking for good and found the passageway out of rock-bottom.

2. One book you have read more than once?
I haven't read it cover to cover, but I often reference and re-reference
A Treasury of Chassidic Tales, Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin
R. Zevin (who is best known for the still-in-production Encyclopedia Talmudit) put together this collection of Chassidic tales. He wrote that he only included stories for which he had a reputable line of transmission. The included indexes are a priceless help. Every single character that appears in any story has a capsule biography in the back and a complete list of every story he appears in. Great for getting to know somebody. This was originally written in Hebrew, but was blessed with a great translation to English. The indexes are also translated (and if memory serves, the English indexes may be even more informative than the Hebrew.)

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander, et al.
Christopher Alexander and his gang of cohorts explore patterns of building, from countries to cities to cobblestones to corners. If I'm going to be on a desert island, I might as well start to develop the place, no?

4. One book that made you laugh?
* Nearly every book from Mark Helprin. If you're the type of person who tunes in on his frequency, he's a god-send.
* Nearly every poem from Hafiz - how can any soul not collapse in joy?

5. One book that made you cry?
Errr. Movies can make me cry. Stories. Maybe Songs. I can't remember a book that made me cry.

6. One book you wish had been written?
Thoughts On The Novel I've Been Working On Forever And Have Now Finished - MCAryeh

7. One book you wish had never been written?
We get to a theological knot with this one. I can't wish non-existence on anything that exists without violating my belief in the unity of God.
That being said, as a teenager, I disliked Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with a passion.
We spent ages with this book in high school. I made all sorts of plans on how to destroy it in creative ways. I don't remember what foul fate my copy met with in the end.
It could be that the book is fine, but just became the embodiment of my visceral teenage dislike of the French language.

8. One book you are currently reading?
* Generation to Generation, Avraham Yehoshua Twerski
* Kaddish, Leon Wieseltier

9. One book you've been meaning to read?
Ok, I'm going to spin this off into the Wish List Meme - Scrape your wish list from Amazon, and post it up. No censoring. My list has some entries on it that have to be at least 5 years old. It's not so much what I want to read as what I have wanted to read in the past (and never read.)

* The History of Love: A Novel, Nicole Krauss
* The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov, Yitzak Buxbaum
* Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man, Elliott Katz
* Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
* The Systems Bible: The Beginner's Guide to Systems Large and Small, John Gall
* Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, Douglas R. Hofstadter
* Striving Towards Being: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz

So that's that!

I'm turning around and taggin MCAryeh with the wishlist meme, and I'll trust him to make it into the biggesting thing since root beer.
I'd like to see what sort of literary treats Wanderin' Stu serves up as well.


WanderingStu said...

Bad Blogger me, don't even know what a meme is-- lemme know-- yer MCAryeh link don't work-- i miss that guy, he used to pop up on the stu-- send me the "meme" and i will mem.

'laizer said...

Meme (in this context) is basically a blogging dare that you do and than pass on to other folks to do. Thanks for the tip on the link - should work now.

MC Aryeh said...

Now this is the kind of thing one hopes for in a meme! Fantastic list of books I can't wait to add to my own list of books I hope to read before death at 120...

'laizer said...

I have to amend this - 'Night' made me cry like a child.