1) Total number of books owned.
I have no idea. Do people actually count their books? I never seem to have enough. There's always another book I want, but lets be honest, I haven't read everything I own. I mean, why would I want to count my books? I could be reading them. So who knows, but it's a bunch. I horde and I don't throw out. When I die, build a funeral pyre from them.
2) The last book I bought?
In the Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami.
3) The last book I read?
Rhythmanalysis, Henri Lefebvre.
What? Look, I'm a research student. They make me read books to prove I that I can read. Lefebvre is actually a Marxist theorist, if you're into that, who had a bunch of thoughts about space and life, which is what interests me. I read somewhere that he dictated a lot of his books, and in translation, it shows. It feels like a guy standing there and just talking about what he things--a brilliant, out of mainstream Marxist following guy, but still. In small doses such as with Rhythmanalysis, he's not so bad, but four hundred page things like The Production of Space... it's like being stuck next to socially retarded, drunk academics for a dinner party that lasts a year.
4) Five books that mean a lot to me?
You know, originally, I wrote this list and I got to the end and I thought, "You know, I say the same five books all the time. How many times have I done a meme like this?" So, this is now Five Other Books I Don't Mention in Memes or On My Blog Much.
Why Don't You Dance?, Raymond Carver.
A collection of short fiction, it contains one of my favourite short stories, the title piece 'Why Don't You Dance?' It's just heart breaking and beautiful, and when I read that line when Carver writes that she was trying to talk it out of herself, everything just falls into place.
One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, Christopher Brookmyre.
Imagine: you have a high school reunion on an oil platform being turned into a multi million dollar floating hotel, and during it, terrorists take the whole thing to hold everyone hostage. It's Die Hard meets... well, just about every other fucking action film with Bruce Willis, I think. The truth is, I have dreams like this. I usually die holding a piece of cake and saying, "Those are neat ski masks you have there, mate." Tragic, isn't it? My dreams hate me. Anyhow: Brookmyre's book is filled with neat characters, excellent moments of violence, and is, totally, a satirical action film on paper. I really ought to track down more of his non-crime novels.
Limekiller, Avram Davidson.
Released... what, end of 2003? Is it too early to make it a favourite? Fuck it. I love Davidson, and this, I think, is the collection of his best work. These are demanding, sprawling stories that, in the final pages and draw into tight collections. It's masterful. Simple as. They're the best of his stuff, I reckon, at least from what I've read. Truth is, I didn't discover Davidson until he had died, and one of his final stories was printed in the magazine Eidolon. It was a collaboration, and I didn't mind it, but truth to tell, it wasn't fantastic. It was two pages, I think, and about a man running and being cut up--there were lions, I think. Maybe. But I liked it enough that, coupled with a tiny essay on Davidson that caught my attention, I went and hunted out a bit of his other work. Luckily for me there was a movement to reprint his work, though because of this, I have no real idea what portion of it I've read. Maybe I should look that up. Anyhow, even when his stuff doesn't work (and it doesn't, at times) there's always some really fine moment in it that makes the journey worth while.
Limekiller has an ugly cover thought. You'll be impressed by how much I like Davidson that I overlooked that ugly cover.
The Art of Looking Sideways, Alan Fletcher.
This is a big, beautiful book about making you look at things differently. It's all about mixing visuals, prose, the page, and information. It's history, it's thoughtful, it's just... well, beautiful. Every aspect of it. Flip it open and you'll get something from it on every page.
Cages, Dave McKean.
Picking a graphic novel is difficult. I like graphic novels: they're a neat, disposable, quick digestion of image and words, and while I like the medium, much of what is in it doesn't stand up to the best of prose or film in my mind. There's never been a graphic novel like Thomas Lynch's wise and thoughtful essays of death, never been a graphic novel that could mesh samurai and western narratives like Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog (the comic version of it would just be stupid--full of rippling muscles and splash scenes)... it is a quick, disposable genre, and while I like it a whole heap, it has produced few works that spike my brain. Comics and graphic novels are the old television, and that's how I enjoy them. However, a few come close to being this thing of beauty, however, and one of those is the sprawling magic realist graphic novel, Cages, which is just gorgeous from end to end, from art to dialogue to characters. A fine thing.