Chad Perrin: SOB

2 August 2006

Judge a book by its readers.

Filed under: Cognition,Geek — apotheon @ 12:42

Sterling has a list of generic questions/instructions about books in a recent post entitled Think of a title…. I’ll overlook the lack of spaces in the ellipsis, and focus on the content (har har).

The last instruction in the list of ten induces him to tag five other people to play this game. I was first (in alphabetical order) on his list, so here I go (with slightly modified question/instruction text):

  1. Name one book that changed your life.

    Illusions, by Richard Bach. I actually read that before his more popularly known and less flaky-seeming Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It taught me something fundamental and indescribable about metaphysics, belief systems, faith, and the relationship of the internal to the external. The D&D Basic rulebook deserves an honorable mention here.
  2. Name one book you have read more than once.

    Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Yes, really. Twice. All six million pages of it. It’s quite excellent, really. It would have to be, for me to read such an impressive tome twice. I actually considered making this the “book that changed [my] life”, but I thought it would be funnier here. Besides, Illusions was probably more properly the book that had the biggest impact. In What impacted me in Atlas Shrugged was more a single concept, which could as easily have been (and in a couple cases was) summed up in a single paragraph, than the whole book.
  3. Name one book you would want on a desert isle.

    I’m going to have to go with a dictionary here, believe it or not. A really big one, with very precise definitions.
  4. Name one book that made you laugh.

    Parliament of Whores, by PJ O’Rourke. I mentioned it recently, in an SOB entry entitled Required Reading: Parliament of Whores. In addition to being good at opening the eyes to governmental process in the US, it is also a laugh factory. It’s the most entertaining read I’ve had in quite a while.
  5. Name one book that made you cry.

    I’m tempted to list Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because it made me laugh until I cried the first time I read it, but that’s not the right kind of crying for this one. Truthfully, I don’t think I’d go so far as to say that a book has made me cry, but a couple have brought a tear to my eye. One example is It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, by Lance Armstrong (and a ghostwriter). The short explanation for why it brought a tear to my eye is simple — I’ve lost a friend to cancer.
  6. Describe one book you wish had been written.

    I wish every book I’ve started, but not finished, writing had been written. The one that most forcefully comes to mind is an imagined magnum opus tour de force treatment of ethical theory. I’m working on it, just as I’m working on the Tao te Ching translation/interpretation, the several novels on which I’m working, and so on. It’s the slowest-moving book-in-development of the lot, though.
  7. Name one book you wish had never been written.

    Blasphemy! Only heathens wish nonexistence upon books! Though . . . there are a few I wish nobody credulous enough to internalize their ideas had read. One that comes to mind is the Communist Manifesto. Another is the Malleus Maleficarum, ripples of which are still being felt in the course of history as it unfolds, though most wouldn’t see the connection. A book I’d like to have never felt the need to read, because it’s just atrocious writing and bad, flatulent, specious argumentation, is Utopian Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I even spent money on that damned thing. I want those three hours of my life back. Still, it’s nice being able to speak authoritatively when I tell some Upton Sycophant where to stick it.
  8. Name one book you are currently reading.

    Liberty and Culture, by Tibor Machan. It’s a collection of some of the most simply right essays on exactly the subjects indicated in the title that I have ever had the pleasure to stumble upon. There are a couple of very minor apparent differences of opinion between Mr. Machan and me, but less so than I’ve encountered in the writings of anyone else that has discoursed on such subjects at great length.
  9. Name one book you have been meaning to read.

    Most of them, really. I do have some specific examples on my shelves waiting to be read, however. Among them are Faster Than Light: Superluminal Loopholes in Physics, Cryptonomicon, Freakonomics, Time Enough For Love, A Traveler’s Guide to Mars, Programming Perl, The Book of Five Rings, The Bible, and a couple of Philip K. Dick collections.
  10. You’re it: tag five people to play this silly game.

    I doubt I’ll get five people to play along, but I’ll take a whack at this, in alphabetical order:
    1. Greyface
    2. Joseph
    3. M.
    4. Ratha
    5. The Jenny

There are, in fact, many more than five of you, but I figured I’d follow the rules for a change and use the limit of five to stop myself from typing forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and . . .

Amidst Sterling’s answers, there was commentary about my Apotheonic Tao te Ching project: he is apparently “anxiously awaiting” (his words) my in-progress translation/interpretation. I admit to having set it on a back burner to simmer, and perhaps boil over eventually without getting properly tended, in part because I’m always picking up more projects, but mostly because I haven’t really seen much evidence that anyone cared (for instance, I don’t think I’ve gotten a single ad click there), so it didn’t seem very pressing. I might dive back into that effort with more earnestness now, though, with the inspiration provided by someone else’s interest.


  1. “I admit to having set it on a back burner to simmer . . . mostly because I haven’t really seen much evidence that anyone cared (for instance, I don’t think I’ve gotten a single ad click there), so it didn’t seem very pressing. I might dive back into that effort with more earnestness now, though, with the inspiration provided by someone else’s interest.”

    I’m interested in seeing your interpretation of the Tao Te Ching. You shouldn’t judge the fact that you have no ad clicks as a measure of interest. You added the site with the promise of “Coming Soon” so all interested parties have checked it out and are awaiting what is to come. If there are no regular updates or no announcement of added materials, people tend to not browse to the site if they are not rewarded with new items.

    So, as you can see, there is interest from at least a few people. I’m not sure if that’s enough to inspire you to work on it but maybe this will supply you with the “evidence that anyone cared” and motivate you to give those anxiously awaiting people something new to chew on.

    Comment by medullaoblongata — 2 August 2006 @ 10:01

  2. Thanks for participating, apotheon. Bach’s Illusions is a profound book, even though it was a best-seller.

    For its time, the Communist Manifesto was also profound, in the way that it redrew the presumed map of society. Like many revolutionary ideas, though, its conclusions have proven too facile over time. Unfortunately, it is always just such documents that get adopted as sacred literature.

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 2 August 2006 @ 10:26

  3. Thanks for the support, guys.

    Comment by apotheon — 2 August 2006 @ 05:42

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  5. I played along, but without the tag. ;p

    Comment by Alex — 10 August 2006 @ 11:03

  6. […] Chad Perrion over at SOB has tagged me for this meme, so I’ll play along following his lead. […]

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  7. […] had the misfortune to finish reading. I’ve commented on this before, in my problem with long books, Judge a book by its readers., and a review I wrote. It seems obvious to me that these people are calling AS bad not because they […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » Atlas Shrugged Again — 23 May 2008 @ 02:43

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