Andrew has thrown down a challenge
. Apparently it is all the rage on the Interwebnet to get people to answer a series of questions about books. Well, I’m usually game for a challenge, unless it’s canoeing
, so here goes:Number of books you own
: I’m not sure. My guess is that it’s something like 300 - 400. (I’ve cheated and revised my original post, which said 200!) I actually need to do some pretty serious pruning. But it won’t be easy – I somehow feel it’s an act of vandalism to throw away a book. My parents own between 5,000 and 7,000. I was genuinely astounded as a child when I first realised that lots of homes have hardly any books at all.Last book I bought
: In Pursuit of Excellence and Self-Fulfillment
, by Judd Biasiotto.Last book I read
: In Pursuit of Excellence and Self-Fulfillment
, by Judd Biasiotto. This is a series of lectures by a magnificent chap who is a powerlifting champion, sports psychologist, teacher and writer (among other things). I suppose it would count as a ‘self-help’ book, and maybe that’s not a bad thing after all.
I’d always had something of a horror of secular self-improvement books, but I have reassessed in light of the terrific good sense and wisdom in these pages. If the term ‘beautiful person’ has any meaning, it applies to the good Dr Judd.Five books that mean a lot to me
: This is ferciously difficult, and I’ll undoubtedly leave out something that I should include. But I’ll give it a go. In no particular order:
1. Goldwater The Man Who Made A Revolution
, by Lee Edwards. I feel more than a little ashamed that one of the reasons that The Road to Serfdom
isn’t in my top five is that I’ve not got round to reading it. I suppose I find biographies more accessible – if I may use that ghastly term. Moreover, as much as I hate self-professed pragmatists, political philosophy is much more tangible and meaningful when seen in a human context.
Goldwater was terrific – a true visionary who rightly takes his place as the father of American conservatism. Without Goldwater, there would have been no Reagan. He was a libertarian of the best sort – a true small government Constitutionalist. Edwards chronicles the life of this Great American Hero beautifully, and anyone interested in the Republican Party is well-advised to read his book.
2. Rogue Warrior: Task Force Blue,
by Richard Marcinko and John Weisman. I plucked this off a bookshelf because I fancied an undemanding action thriller one day. It has proved to be so much more. Dick Marcinko is a real-life Navy SEAL who has parlayed his experiences into a series of biographies and novels. They are rip-roaring good fun, and a particular joy is his superb use of very robust swearing. He is also a man of great integrity and decency.
I keep dipping back into this book, as it contains some exceedingly good advice on managing confrontation – be it in a boardroom or on an oilrig. Marcinko is an expert both in man management and hunting down and killing people. This book contains a supremely effective fighting technique that I would definitely use if forced to defend myself on the street. Marcinko has his own website
, which I have decided to link to in tribute to his utter awesomeness.
3. Atlas Shrugged
, by Ayn Rand. It is far too long. It outlines some pretty wacky views about sexual relationships (although at least the hero isn’t a rapist, as is the case in The Fountainhead
). It may well be true that The Wealth of Nations
is a more worthy and worthwhile read. It seems to be the case that Rand was a deeply flawed human being. But this novel – which did the rounds of the Conservative Research Department – could very likely change your life.
It makes the moral case for capitalism majestically. It demolishes the case for competition law
and the absurd proposition that money is the root of all evil (it’s actually a remarkable civilising force). Read it and be inspired.
4. The Rise of Political Lying
, by Peter Oborne. I had to include it.
It is one of the five books that mean a lot to me because I worked on it, because I loved working on it, and because it made me realise that actually I do have some marketable skills! I didn’t write any of it, and Peter takes full credit for the fact that it is an absolutely brilliant expose of the New Labour regime.
5. Any Book That Has Been Given To Me As A Present. I suppose this is a little bit of a cop-out, but it is true. It’s LOVELY to be given a book by someone. It serves as a reminder of them every time you dip in, and it requires real thought to choose a book for someone else. Peter gave me a signed copy of his book, which was a nice gesture; Mark and Yasmin gave me a bible for my trip to the States, which was really kind; and Geoff sealed our friendship – established on that trip – by sending me a book called, appropriately, America
.Who gets this next
: The Baileys
Sorry that I haven’t been very active on the blog recently, or indeed on Once More
. I’ve been a bit busy, and to be honest, I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost a bit of my mirth.