Saturday, May 13, 2017

Five Books

Between two house fires and the ongoing movement of millions across the globe, a thought exercise came into my head:  If I could take only five books with me, what would I take?

I am a bibliophile:  I have (literally) hundreds of books, all of which I have read at least one time.  But in a clinch - if I could, for some reason, only take five, what would they be?  The one qualifier is that they have to be books that I own now:

1)  The Bible:  Front and center for any Christian.  My version in the NKJV, MacArthur study Bible - so it is almost cheating by getting a book and a commentary in one.

2)  A Book of Five Rings (Miyamoto Musashi):  The classic work on strategy (and from my point of view, the most approachable).  I have been reading Musashi for over 25 years and continue to discover new things in the text.

3)  Loeb Classical Library 283:  Marcus Porcius Cato and Marcus Terrntius Varro, On Agriculture:  Marcus Porcius Cato Censorius (Cato the Censor) was by all accounts a fine writer but very few of his works survive.  This work is an instruction manual on the ideal agricultural set up in Republican era Rome.  It is paired with Varro's work (slightly later in time but still within Republican/Augustan times) on ideal agriculture.  Not only is is well written, it gives insight into how things were accomplished when technology was limited (as an added bonus, it is in Latin and English so one could practice two languages!).

4) Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan):  The quintessential inspirational work on the Christian journey.  More enjoyable in the original 17th Century English.

5)  The Contrary Farmer's Invitation to Farming (Gene Logsdon):Gene Logsdon is my inspirational agricultural hero, a man who practiced what he preached about agriculture.  This was the first work of his I read and while I have enjoyed his others, this is my favorite.  Logsdon's book oozes not only with practical advice written in such a way to make the agricultural life seem desirable but permeated throughout his work is the underlying confidence that this is something that anyone can do.  It is as much an inspirational work as an instructional one.

Bonus Round:

6-8)  The Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers/The Return of The King (J.R.R. Tolkien):  What can one say about the trilogy from which virtually all other fantasies written since them find their root?  The story is grand but Tolkien's use of word and descriptions and the drawing in of a fully imagined past make one wish he had written books on all the rest as well.

9)  Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand):  It is rare that an economist and philosopher can write excellent fiction.  Rand's work (clocking in at about 1200 pages) is a well written and exciting mystery submerged in simple philosophical question: What would happen if the engine of the world - the economy, the producers - where turned off?  Her almost uncanny description which reflects the actual slow devolution of the West is almost eerie.

10)   The Last Days of Socrates (Plato, Penguin edition): This version contains four Socratic dialogues:  Euthyphro, The Apology, Crito, Phaedo - which are meant to cover the last days of Socrates' life from his way to trial to trial and sentencing to prison to his death.  Not only an excellent introduction to Plato but a moving consideration of man who knows himself to be in the right yet ultimately submits to the wrong to prove his philosophy.

What would be on your list?

2 comments:

kymber said...

ok...you cheated and added ten so i am taking it for granted that my 13 complete sets of encyclopaedias are allowed.

first - the biblical books - the bible. i have 5 versions but they all count as one in my mind ( i love nothing more than spreading them out on the floor and looking at a particular passage and how it is translated in each version. Uncle Gerald used to laugh when i told him how many years i did that for fun.)

James the brother of Jesus by Eisenman.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Markale. the very best translation i have read. and love.

In search of Zarathrustra by Kriwaczek.

Memories of my nervous illness by Schreber.

The alchemist by Coelho and Jalamanta by Anaya and The rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Khayyam and all for the same uplifting purposes.

The Occulatum by Dutton.

The manual of the apiary by Cook - one of the best bee books out there!

The complete poems and plays of T.s Eliot.

The fairyland of science by Buckley.

and Envisioning information by Tufte.

you didn't think anyone would take you up on your challenge eh?

oh one last thing - or a few things - EVERY.SINGLE.THING. written by Umberto Eco. that man writes the best non-fiction and fiction out there.

sending you love. thanks for making me have to go and climb on chairs to figure out what my favourite books are and what i want on hand if anything ever happened.

my mother used to say that if there was ever a fire, she would go for the photo albums before trying to save us kids or our dad. baghahahah!

your friend,
kymber

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I can see Uncle Gerald doing that.

Thanks for sharing - I know a few of those works (The Alchemist was very uplifting, and I have read around the edges of The Rubiyat and of course know of eliott) but have not read many of those other works (now, I have an excuse to - it's like they are recommended!).

I found it to be a really interesting exercise. The first five were very easy to pick out, and the second five as well. I bet I would get through thirty without second thoughts, and then it would become more difficult.

The Ravishing Mrs. TB has also threatened to save the albums before - as she spent a good deal of time making them, I amd not surprised!

Much Love, TB