1. How many books do I own?
Bizarrely, I have the honour of having been published in the Times on this topic. This arose the penultimate time that your humble Pedant-General was moving to a new grace and favour apartment and found himself cursing the weight of young master Pedant-General’s library. During a well deserved break from this epic labour, I chanced upon a letter in the Times, suggesting that books were infinitely preferable to the interwebthingy as:
a) one cannot curl up in bed with the internet and
b) what could be more portable than a book?
I recall that Lady P-G required to administer a strong cup of Earl Grey tea and even stronger administration of the P-G red proof-reader’s pen before either my letter was fit for publication or I was fit to be seen in public.
How many books do I own? I must confess that I have not counted but I can state with confidence that, collectively, they weigh about three quarters of a ton.
2. What’s the last book I bought?
“The Seven Basic Plots” by Christopher Booker. In much the same way that Messrs Sellar and Yeatman memorably brought the study of History to a “.”, I suspect Mr Booker has done the same to literary criticism with this magnificent study.
3. What’s the last book I read?
The position here is confused for two reasons. Firstly, my reading time is somewhat limited – a crime for which the youngest master Pedant-General must answer in the fullness of time. Secondly, Lady P-G has a particularly loathsome habit of swiping any interesting book in which I might be engaged. As a result, I tend to have a number of books on the go at any one instance.
Thus, it is either “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson, or “Fermat’s Last Theorem” by Simon Singh.
This latter has a delightful entry in the Appendices showing the proof that the square root of 2 is irrational. A little more mathematics and slightly less sociology would do this country a power of good.
Although I suspect strongly that Mr Bryson is no stranger to the Grocer’s Apostrophe, we must be grateful for this epic. I would recommend that each member of the Kansas Education Board buy a copy and read it, carefully, from cover to cover. See “Creationism”, filed under “Hanging Offences” in my manifesto.
That said, I fear that, if Mr Seat were to read this book, the last remaining topics of conversation in which I do not feel a complete philistine and entirely uninformed in his company would be expunged for good.
4. What are the five books that mean the most to me?
- I am not sure how one would procure a copy of “Serve to Lead” on the open market. It is a slim volume of essays, speeches and extracts from a number of books on the topics of morale, leadership, discipline and courage. Here is Field Marshal Sir William Slim:
Courage is the virtue. Without it, there are no other virtues. Faith, hope charity, all the rest don’t become virtues until it takes courage to exercise them. Courage is not only the basis of all virtue; it is its expression. True, you may be bad and brave, but you can’t be good without being brave.
And very powerful it is too.
- This. I
clung grimly to any passing hope of survivallived through its four year gestation period. Lady P-G is justifiably proud of her magnum opus. Buy it: It is simply the only book you need to have in your kitchen.
- It would be foolish, churlish even, to deny that “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss is not somewhere upon this list. A glance at my manifesto below might give you, dear readers, a clue as to why.
And to finish, two rather more esoteric choices:
- Anyone who has worked here, or indeed any number of places like it, will know that in the late 90s, one lived or died by one’s ability, on demand and after several days without sleep, to mumble arcane incantations from the “Excel Function Reference Guide”. The feverish state of the – unnamed – author, holed up in some unspeakable dungeon of the Seattle gulags, cannot be imagined
- “The Art of Electronics” by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill. Though I have not had call to refer to this for more than a decade, I cannot bear to part with this. Can’t quite explain why.
I’m afraid that the half-life of these little diversions is falling fast, given the way that the interwebthingy appears to be cutting the fabled “seven degrees of separation”.
A long and distinguished list of equally distinguished and entirely grammatically unimpeachable bloggers has already offered their contributions in this field.
Nosemonkey, Tim Worstall and Mr Seat all spring instantly to mind.
Equally, I would be fascinated to see the contributions of Dr Richard North and Margot Wallstrom, but I suspect the former has not the time and the latter has not the inclination.
- Bystander at The Law West of Ealing Broadway
- Harry Hutton at Chase me Ladies! I'm in the Cavalry
- Squander Two
- John B at Shot by Both sides
It appears that my comment above was prescient: John B has already posted on this topic. Drat.
In which case, Elaib at England Expects would be a very sound replacement, assuming the Stasi that run the systems at the European Parliament will allow him to access blogger.