Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Um, ALright, alright,
I suppose now that I'm back from vacation I'm due for a blog post anyway. Danya tagged me for this crazy (as she puts it) meme thing. Uh, thank you Daniel Dennet.

Here goes:
Number of books I own
Also no idea: I have merged my bookshelves with those of the partner, which makes things even more confusing (and not to mention the now growing collection of children's books - he's only 14 months and can't yet read, but that doesn't really stop us), but let's see, we have 4 full size book cases in the living room, plus one of those narrow ones, two full bokcases in the dining room, the closet in the study holds a rather dangerous set of wireshelves that is meant to replace the extremely large bookcase that the movers destroyed last summer, there's a large bookcase inthe hallway and one in the bedroom. Plus two of my bookcases at work hold books that belong to me. How many? Um.
A lot.
Lots of Sfarim (holy books in Hebrew or Aramaic), plus lots of Jew central theorizing in English. Also much feminist stuff and a remnant of what used to be an enormous collection of philosophy (used to be mostly philosophy of science, now leans more heavily toward history of philosophy. I STILL regret giving away all those books to the philosophy library at UMD when I moved to LA. Still, I can only shudder at the thought of having to move them, too). There's also a good assortment of poetry (I prefer poets who don't write anything longer than two pages, but there are a few collections of things like Icelandic sagas/eddas), and some fiction - mostly brain candy, but a few good things like all of Sherman Alexie's short story collections. If there's high praise for him that's missing, consider it given here. Wow.

Last book I read:
And finished?
plane fodder for my vacation trip to PUerto Rico (which, travelling with a toddler, I managed to stretch out over three flights D.C. - Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico- Los Angeles; Los Angeles- D.C. *sigh* I wonder how old he'll be before I can finish a book on a flight again). Complete and utter brain candy. I don't actually remember the title, but it was some sort of mystery bought in an airport bookstore.
For something with a title I can recall, we will have to go to Shake Hands with the Devil enormously depressing and very important book about the Rwanda genocide. I'm currently working on the Paul Fenton translation of The Treatise of the Pool by Ovadiah Maimonides (yes, that family. He's the grandson. Apparently both the son and grandson took an interest in Sufism and tried to reclaim it (well, that's what they said they were doing) as the practices of Judaism of old.
Also Sufi Women Mystics. Yes, there's a trend there. Who'd have believed I'd ever take an interest in mysticism. *sigh* Don't let my former philosophy professors know about this, okay? It's bad enough I'm doing religion at all. Maybe I could tell them that I'm working my way through William James or something.

Last purchased:
Treatise of the Pool. I've been trying very hard not to buy too many books. It's a prerequisite to keeping my marriage together. Since I bought a bunch recently, I'm trying not to buy any more for a while. It's tough, though, since the local library doesn't really carry much in the way of Judaica. ALthough I would like to know when Steinsaltz is going to finish up his Hebrew translation of the talmud. Come on, we're waiting. It's been years since the last volume - what happened? If you finish I'll buy them, I promise!

Books that mean a lot to me:
Okay, we've already got the Judaica theme down, so count in my talmud, halachic works of various sorts, chassidut and commentaries, etc.

Carol Tavris' The Mismeasure of Woman: a really important work that lays out empirically the crap that floats around disguised as science about women and men.

Yehuda Amichai - assorted bits from various books. I love the way he folds in God and Judaism and biblical imagery into his questioning, iconoclastic poetry. If anyone makes it into a siddur in the next generation, it should be him (and not Marcia Falk. Feh.)

Also, Marge Piercy's work, which is what started me reading poetry when I was in high school.

Sherman Alexie's collections of short stories. The man writes like a human being. If human beings would let themselves be human. His characters are sweet, but not mawkish. The character who immediately comes to mind is a husband who pees sitting down on the toilet because it doesn't cost him anything to do it, and it makes his wife happy. And also loves basketball. Among other good qualities.I have to admit I'm not super mad about his poetry,a lthugh someof it is good, and his novels don't make me swoon, but he may be the best living American writer of short stories today.

Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea series. I read these as a teenager, and I think that they're the most Jewish of the fantasy novels out there. The word is the thing, and not a symbol that can be translated. To speak is to make. Let there be light: and there was light. Forget Hary Potter (although I enjoy those books) and the Narnia books of C.S. Lewis (he couldn't fool me, I knew that whole Lion/Emperor overseas is some sort of Christological thing), LeGuin, dspite a somewhat less than feminist slant in her earlier books was somehow empowering. And her other books are great too, especialy in their examination of gender and culture.

I probably have to come back to this.

Tag five more:
I'll definitely have to come back to this.