Saturday, June 04, 2005

Book Speak

With moving comes sporadic internet access and abbreviated time for response - hence my tardy reply to a most interesting challenge dangled on the front page of the London Fog.

Number of Books I Own: Approximately 2,000 with another 200 or so on 'loan' throughout the world. While the majority are on shelves back in the Townships, many of my favourites endure my transient lifestyle.

Last Book I Bought: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black. As a lover of history, I always enjoy a new attempt at an old topic. Hopefully his writing is better than his attempts at obstruction.

Last book I Read: The Rivers North of the Future, The Testament of Ivan Illich by David Cayley. The author of Deschooling Society and Disabling Professions reflects on his life's work and offers a new treatise to explain the evolution of modern society. The book is an offshoot of a 5 part discussion on Ideas. A more in-depth post is to follow as time permits.

The Five:

1. Walden Pond. Thoreau's Masterpiece. From rugged individualism to societal duty, it has it all. I carry it wherever I go and still ask the question... What would Thoreau do?

2. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. As an urban planner, this book is still the shit. The secret of its importance lies in the overt hatred of planners and professional planning in general. Her advocacy for the importance of public participation over the technocratic tendencies of my chosen profession remain as powerful today as when it was written in 1961.

3. Beyond Forgot: Rediscovering the Prairies by Mike Abbey. This is the Canadian version of Bill Bryson's Lost Continent or In a Sunburned Country. While not a stunning literary gem, its intelligent insight into the Prairie experience led to a month of aimless wandering about Saskatchewan - taking pictures of imploding grain elevators no less.

4. Reformation: Europe's House Divided by Diarmaid MacCulloch. This is far and away the definitive text on the period. If one ever wants to fully understand the powerful role of this period and the hold it still maintains on modern culture, this book is a must.

5. The Last Spike by Pierre Berton. I've always been a sucker for Canadian history and this remains my guilty pleasure. In true Berton style, the epic nature of the text and character detailing invokes a cliffhanger fiction feel. From scandal to heroes, this tale of nation-building provides the perfect means to put the whole drive up the Dempster into perspective.


I've never been a fan of the tag, but if I must, I will suggest two:

The learned folk o'er at the Eponym; and
the Cookstown which is need of print.


Blogger MapMaster said...

Thanks. I apologize for the tag, but I find your brand of individualism distinctive and I thought informed by substantial reading, so I thought it would be interesting to pick at your influences a little. In retrospect, I might have guessed at Walden. I recently picked up the Jane Jacobs book as well, although I haven't got to it yet and I see no prospects in my schedule for doing so in the near future. But I won't forget about it. I'd be interested in checking out the MacCulloch as well. That's the problem with this game — there's too many more books I want to read now.

I also tagged you because I felt guilty for not replying to your well-considered reply to one of my comments on the post about creative cities you put up some time back. Yes, it's a strange way of atoning — making others pay for my sins. I never said I was a good person.


1:15 AM  
Blogger Dick said...

Sorry to have let you down! If you had asked me five years ago, my list would have focused on the required philosophy classics. No longer. With time comes mellowness as ideology slips away and is replaced with a most delightful form of political resignation. As a result, books become tools rather than ends and one's scope broadens as cultural study replaces vested interest. Informed comment is only possible through an understanding of culture.

And no need to apologize for the tag! I myself have no problem with them at all. Besides, you put your apologies up front.

Five additional off the top of my head:

6. Image of City - Kevin Lynch

7. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake - Northrop Frye

8. The Second World War - Winston Churchill

9. The Scotch - John Kenneth Galbraith

10. City Limits - Paul Peterson

11:36 PM  
Blogger MapMaster said...

With time comes mellowness as ideology slips away and is replaced with a most delightful form of political resignation.

Little gems like that are why I tagged you in the first place, so no apologies are required for not including the sophomoric philosophy texts! I'm pretty much in the process of letting the dust collect on my philosophy books and cleaning off my windows so I can see into the outside world of dirt, smoke, flesh and brick (even to the point that I'm thinking of running for office). Histories and pulp fictions seem to be my fare now. Perhaps a departure from my dearly held ideologies will ensue, time will tell.

Thanks again!

7:22 PM  

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