TexasBestGrok has a few questions for me…
1. Total Number of Books I’ve Owned. Impossible to say, but I would guess I currently own about 2500. As for ones I’ve owned and sold in the past, the number would be extremely high.
3. Last Book I Read: Casa Grande by Charles Duff Stuart. The author was the son of Charles V. Stuart, a delegate to the California Constitutional Convention of 1878, and subject of a forthcoming article of mine. I read his son’s novel hoping there might be something in there of the father—the story is set on a Sonoma County farm presided over by a 49er, just like Charles V.’s Glen Oaks Ranch. But there was very little that I found helpful, and the novel is an atrocity. Practically a case study in how not to write a novel. Still, it was an interesting historical artifact. The copy I have, in fact, was inscribed by Charles D. Stuart to his former boss, Charles W. Slack, a San Francisco judge who served on the committee to rebuild the city after the earthquake of 1906. That earthquake was only months before Casa Grande was published.
4. Five Books That Mean A lot to Me: No book lover can ever answer this question satisfactorily. I’ll just name five taken from the hundreds of Books That Mean A Lot To Me, in no order.
1. Unweaving The Rainbow by Richard Dawkins (a fantastic book about curiosity and its enemies).
2. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (the masterpiece of this great stylist, and a brilliantly penetrating character study; an essay, so to speak, on whether moral success is possible or desirable.)
3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (obviously, the book that changed my life).
4. Steel Beach by John Varley (Varley’s masterpiece. Not my personal favorite of his books—that’s Demon—but if you’re going to read only one of his books, I suppose this is the one.)
5. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett (a true Work Of Genius; one of those books where every page has a mind-blowing idea.)