Saturday, May 28, 2005

Yet another meme

First, let me apologize for the lack of posting. In the past week I've graduated, helped my mom with a crapload of gardening stuff, started a summer job, and then had to work 12 hours straight putting in the sprinkler system from hell...on the second day of my said job. Anyway, lest you think all I'm posting about is memes, there will be more on the site over the weekend. But for now, I've been tagged by Robert with a literary meme, so here goes.

1. The number of books I've owned: Well, I'm going to subdivide this section a bit. I really haven't had to get rid of large numbers of books yet, since I still live at home, so these totals are going to be the number of books I currently own. I've got about 100 or so "adult" books; a lot of Clancy and Clancy-esque thrillers, with a smattering of military non-fiction, Vietnam memoirs or Blind Man's Bluff. I've also got around 60 "teenager" books, which are mainly novels. Finally, I've got around 40 larger historical or airplane reference type books. So, the grand total is around 200.

2. Last book I bought: The last book I actually bought was Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo, which I bought in the airport bookstore coming back from a cruise in the Bahamas last June. If you want to get more recent, I all but bought Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy last December (I actually received it as a gift, but it was one of those "do-it-yourself" gifts).

3. Last book I read: I'm currently in the process of reading High Calling, which is a faith-based biography about Columbia commander Rick Husband written by his wife. The last book I completed would either be By Any Means Necessary, which does for aerial reconnaissance what Blind Man's Bluff did for the submarine world, or Lost Moon, which is the story of Apollo 13. The reason I say 'either' is that I can't remember which one I finished last, as I was kind of reading them simultaneously...yeah, I'm weird like that.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

A. This first one might sound stupid or nerdy, but the encyclopedia. When I was younger (9-10), I would read the encyclopedia. Not the whole thing, just the subjects that interested me; mainly aviation, the military, and history, particularly American. This provided me with an incredible base of knowledge, in part enabling me to skip the elementary level of reading for these subjects and jump up to more of a high school/college level when I was still in junior high.

B. 1984. Orwell's classic about totalitarianism is as relevant today as it was back in the dark days of the USSR. I read this book when I was in 8th grade and it still continues to influence me.

C. The Case for Democracy. This relatively short book has had a profound effect on me, as it crystallized my change in foreign policy views that had started to take place after 9/11. Prior to 9/11, I still wholly believed in realpolitik. Yes, I understood that there were some issues relating to the behavior of some of our more repressive allies, but I didn't see any other options, especially considering the growing threat posed by Islamic extremists. After 9/11, with the campaign to liberate Afghanistan, I started to come around to the way that W.'s foreign policy team (many of them, including the President, read this same book) sees things, in that democratiziation actually started to look like a real option to me. It's messy, but to paraphrase Churchill, democratization is the worst option we have, except for all the rest. This book finally brought together all the different thoughts regarding democratization that had been floating around my head.

D. Black Hawk Down. On one level, this is an incredible story of modern war, chock full of action, technology, and heroes. On another level, perhaps intertwined with the first, it offers a glimpse inside the mentality of the American fighting man. Honor and duty might be buzzwords to some, but they actually mean something to those in the armed services. While I did somewhat understand that before reading this book, it really hammered it home for me. Two stories, in particular. First, the sacrifice of Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon. Second, the fact that 'no man got left behind;' not even when they had to spend hours cutting the dead MH-60 pilots out of the wreckage.

E. The Jack Ryan series of Tom Clancy novels. Sure, they might be a bit hokey, but these were some of the first "adult" novels I read. Besides, its nice to read books where the good guys aren't afraid to kick some ass and usually manage to find a way to win.

5. As for passing it on, I think I'll pass on this particular subject. Feel free to take this and run with it on your own blog or in the comments, if you wish.