Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What have you been reading?

     Yesterday Sportin' Life over at It Ain't Necessarily So tagged me for a book questionnaire thing that's been going around the blogosphere for the past week or so. So here we go.

  • One Book That Changed Your Life

  • I feel somewhat unoriginal for listing the same book as SL here, but I also think that Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States was a book that really enriched my life. It wasn't that it made my outlook on life radically different, but simply that it helped me shape my ideas into a coherent and complete worldview. It also whet my appetite for the history of those like me, namely human beings, which seem all too neglected in traditional history lessons. For those unfamiliar with the book, I had a review of it this past May.

  • One Book That You Have Read More Than Once

  • With what I consider to be my political awakening happening only a year and half or so ago, I've been very busy in my spare time reading about new ideas and events and still have so many books on my plate that I couldn't imagine reading one of them twice. Now the first serious nonfiction book I ever read was Bertrand Russel's Why I Am Not a Christian. That was around the age of 15 or so, and I do remember reading select chapters of that book twice. The book meant a lot to me as I was reading it at a time when I didn't know anyone else who called themselves an atheist.

  • One Book You'd Want On A Desert Island

  • Obviously the most important book would be one that would help with survival, but this depends greatly on the exact nature of this desert island. For example, if there is only a mile or two of water between me and civilization, I might want a book on raft-making rather than a book telling me how to have safe sex with a cactus. So let's just assume that my basic needs are taken care of. Then I would have to say that by far I would want to have Peskin and Schroeder's An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory. This is because if I didn't read this book then I would be hopelessly behind the rest of the class when I returned to school.

  • A Book That Made You Excited

  • The book that probably got me worked up the most may have been Robert Reich's Reason: Why Liberals Will Win The Battle for America. I read this book at the beginning of my political awakening but perhaps a good few months before I left the mainstream. It was after I had voted for Bush's re-election. It's a good book, and exposes good progressive ideals alongside criticizing the goals and views of those he calls the Radcons. However, ultimately, the book is very much about outrage at the current situation and not about solutions. This is of course because the solutions, I believe, exist outside the range of mainstream options he's willing to consider. The solution is certainly not to play the political see-saw and elect Democrats into office.

  • One Book That You Wish Had Been Written

  • Tough question. I'd say either How the CNT/FAI won the Spanish Civil War and Changed the World or How I Lost My Leg in a Bear Attack by Paris Hilton.

  • One Book That Wracked You With Sobs

  • I've never actually cried while reading a book, although I am susceptible to emotional endings in movies. The last book that I had a somewhat strong emotional response to would be Rudolf Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism. While it's really a book of ideas, the clarity and style of the author's writing can trigger emotional responses in the reader, although the responses are more inspirational than sob-inducing.

  • One Book That You Wish Had Never Been Written

  • Oh I don't know, one of the big holy books? Although ignorance and a life devoid of meaning are much more the driving factors behind religion than a book is.

  • One Book That You're Currently Reading

  • While I haven't actually started it yet, the next book I will be reading will be Antony Beevor's The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939.

  • One Book You've Been Meaning To Read

  • After finishing the book just mentioned, I also have sitting on my bookshelf the books A Homage To Catalonia by Orwell and The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936 by Murray Bookchin. I've recently become very fascinated with the events leading up to and surrounding the Spanish Civil War.

  • Now Tag Five Bloggers

  • Five? It seems that everyone is cheating and isn't doing all five, so I won't either. I tag SH, Mookie, and breakerslion.


    Anonymous said...

    Judging by your list, I think you would also like "The People's History of the American Revolution" by Ray Raphael. It is part of a series proposed by Howard Zinn.

    It is not clear if you are just interested in the Spanish Civil War or Spain in general. But have you read the great Spanish 19th century Spanish writer Benito Perez Galdos? He is described as the Spanish Balzac. Unfortunately hard to find English translations nowadays, but it you read Spanish, go for it.

    Anonymous said...

    I still did not get to Zinn's book. I don't anticipate for it to radically change my life but I do want to read it.

    "An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory" for the desert island is almost as "bad" as Mookie's choice. :-)

    So liberals are expected to "win"? That's not too bad. I just don't know how realistic that is.

    It does look like you are very interested in Spanish Civil war and related topics. I don't know much about it, but I will be glad to read any bits of information you might offer on this subject in your future posts.

    beepbeepitsme said...

    RE: "It was after I had voted for Bush's re-election"

    You voted for bush twice?

    Just teasin'

    Anonymous said...

    On the Spanish Civil War, you might also be interested in the novel "Man's Hope" by André Malraux.

    For a history, there is Gabriel Jackson's "Spanish Republic and Civil War, 1931-1939. Read the Amazon reader's comment.

    breakerslion said...

    You are far more serious than I am at present, in choosing reading matter. I guess someone has to be. I'll play along, but I want to give my last post a chance to simmer for a few days.

    Delta said...


    Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'm mostly interested in the Spanish Civil War at the moment. Although since the events that I'm interested in learning more about were ultimately driven by the people living there, I do have some interest in learning about earlier conditions that helped shape their outlook.


    Hmm, for some reason I had thought that you had read Zinn's book before. But yeah, you should definitely read it. And I will definitely be writing about the Spanish Civil War/Revolution in future posts =)


    Yes, unfortunately I did. I had started a post about my political deconversion about a month ago, but I had to stop because it was a little too embarrassing and painful. I might pick it up and try to grind through the rest sometime soon though.


    Totally understand. Don't want to write a new post before the old one gets its time in the spotlight!