Thursday, June 09, 2005

OT: Bibliophilic? Moi?

For some reason, Lynne labors under the delusion that I read or something. Taking Matt Welch's cranky response to this virus as my keynote, the answers:

1. How many books do I own? Probably around 1,000. I've never really inventoried them.

2. What was the last book I bought? Statistics, Robert S. Witte, 4th Ed.

3. What was the last book I read? I guess that depends on what you mean by "read". Cover-to-cover? That would be The Dodgers: 120 Years of Dodger Baseball by Glenn Stout. But on a daily basis, I spend far more time in reference books, so stuff like Statistics, 2005 Baseball Prospectus, and with the recent baseball draft, Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2005. Yeah, I know, I gave up fiction years ago, which is weird since I get all dewy- (or is that Dewey-?) eyed in libraries; all those books, and I don't have to pay for them!

4. What are the five books that mean the most to me?

1984: I had to read this one in high school but it still stands large in my iconography.

The Last Lion: William Manchester's planned three-part biography of Winston Churchill that will remain sadly uncompleted, he captures beautifully Churchill's defiance at seemingly impossible odds against a barbaric, implacable foe.

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract: the first and largest of the James books I own, he's an absolute master of baseball analysis. More, he writes a beautiful, lucid, and immediately comprehensible prose. A profound thinker on statistical analysis, his ability to explain himself is also unique. People will be reading his Baseball Abstracts well after he is dead; what will they say of Bill Plaschke in sixty years, if they can find anyone outside the Los Angeles Times newsroom who even knows who he is?

My autographed copy of Chuck Amuck: for the interests, and more importantly, friendships I had then, and subsequently lost.

A Distant Mirror: maybe not the whole book so much as the chapter on the Black Death. I've always been fascinated by (some would say attracted to and transfixed by) apocalypses, and Barbara Tuchman's account of the Plague years in Europe is simply some of the best writing I've ever encountered anywhere.

A Mencken Chrestomathy, but I would add pretty much everything he ever wrote, which I own a great deal of. America's master stylist and its first real libertarian since Jefferson, he sets on the page the kind of blistering, horselaugh-inducing prose I can only hope to squeeze out once in a decade.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: because, hey, why not?

Well, enough.