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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]

I've been tagged!


1) The number of books I've owned?

I have no idea. Over time I've read appallingly huge numbers of fluffy romance novels and random science-fiction and fantasy. When I was in high school there was no free book or bargain book bin that was safe from me... I would guess that I own/have owned upwards of 2000 books. I'd hate to try and count the number currently stacked haphazardly in bookcases and on the floor and other available surfaces in my bedroom... never mind the rest of the house.

2) The last book I bought?

Pair of books -- Black Rose by Nora Roberts and the Color of Death by Elizabeth Lowell. The Nora Roberts because it's the second in a trilogy (and I'm a Roberts fan, although I prefer her when she's writing as J. D. Robb) and the Lowell because, dude, Elizabeth Lowell. Love her.

3) The last book I read?

Black Rose, I haven't gotten to Color of Death yet. It's an odd story. A romance novel -- as anyone familiar with Nora Roberts would guess, I'm sure -- with Roberts' spiritual/mystical twist. I'm enjoying it a bit more than her Keys trilogy, possibly because while the ghost involved in it is important, it's not all-encompassing for the story. Plus, for once, it isn't really some kind of goodie-two-shoes sort of thing. It's hard to describe without spoiling it for someone who might want to read it.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me: (in no particular order)


a) Medieval Technology and Social Change by T. H. White

The study of history is overwhelmed, it seems, by everyone's pet theories on how this or that event, social criteria, person, or natural disaster changed the course of it. It's true that there are defining moments and events in history -- without a win in 732 at Tours, the world would be a very different place. It's fairly hard to conceive of a world in which Constantine failed to put his foot down and ordered the Council of Nicea to determine Catholic doctrine and elevated Christianity from its place among the mystery cults of the time.

Most of the time people study political history -- battles, leaders, laws, and religions. T. H. White, with Medieval Technology and Social Change made a breakthrough in creating a new discipline in historical study. Whether one agrees with the premise that without the Mongols (and the stirrup) we'd all be speaking Arabic because the Moslem invasion of Europe would not have been stopped, it opened my eyes to a reality that, unfortunately, many historians and people fail to recognize.

Everything is connected. Very connected. You cannot divorce social history from political history, nor can you ignore developments in technology for class struggles. It's a web of interconnected ideas and realities that forge the past, present and future. One rarely considers what the development of the heavy plow did to the landscape of Europe, or the development of the seed drill... similarly, without the recovery of mathematics from the Moors, the Corpus Juris Civilis where would we be? Our world would be very different.

It also changed the way I think about technology (or, I suppose more accurately, the professors who used this book as part of class did that, in part) because in modern times we always hear it as scienceandtechology... might as well be one word. The two things are very different, but that's probably the subject for another post. I can go on and on and on about science and philosophy, much to the dismay of others on occasion.

b. The Diary of Anne Frank

Because what happened in Nazi Germany and Nazi controlled Europe was beyond horrific. Reading The Diary of Anne Frank taught me that history, dry as it can be in textbooks, involves real people with real feelings and real lives. It is not enough to have statistics, it is important to have the human touch as well. Even with the pictures of liberated concentration camps, for me it was Anne's gentle voice, her fear and faith and optimism and despair that brought home why we can never allow such a thing to happen again if we can help it.

c. The Arrows Trilogy, Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, and Arrow's Fall, by Mercedes Lackey.

Actually, I could probably list nearly every book the woman has written for many of the same reasons. Lackey's work, while being fairly fluffy much of the time, has a core about tolerance, love, giving, and self-sacrifice that has influenced me from the day I pulled Arrows of the Queen off of the shelf at the bookstore because I thought the white horse looked neat. Some of her work is a bit on the hit-or-miss side (particularly in the last few years, feh), but generally the stuff set in Valdemar is very good (indeed, the Vanyel books, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price, are some of the best out there, IMHO, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a gay central character, which took courage on the part of Lackey and her publisher) and has been part of what has made the core of me, well, me.

d. The Belgariad, Pawn of Prophesy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, Enchanter's End Game, by David Eddings

Again, rather fluffy, but with moments about the irrationality of prejudice and evil, and the occasionally inexplicable nature of both. The world is, in its way, incredibly artificial in how its set up -- partially, of course, because of its deities and how their personalities shape their peoples -- but as high fantasy, find the object, take the throne, and save the world types of things go... I love it and take comfort in the familiarity of it, having re-read it many, many times. Even now, after reading it over and over again, I occasionally find things that I missed or didn't understand properly when I was a child, and I treasure that.

Much like Lackey, I don't think Eddings really intended to mould anyones philosophical leanings, but in the midst of any battle between good and evil you will find things that make you think. Is Torak evil or insane (or both?) Is it fear of change that makes the Dark Prophesy evil, or is it really evil at all? Is the Prophesy of Light any better in the way it uses people, with or without their explicit consent (which, btw, becomes a fascinating philosophical point if you read Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress.)

e) and on that note, I'll include The Voyage of the Fox Rider by Dennis McKiernan, simply for the ongoing -- and fascinating -- discussion regarding the nature of evil... which begins and in a real way ends with 'Evil is bad.'

Actually, McKiernan is probably one of my favorite authors of all time because he's very deliberate in his philosophical things, trying to make the reader think as well as exploring his own opinions. Love him, love him, love him, adore him, and want to have his philosophical babies, yes.

...which leads me to recommend The Caverns of Socrates which is more science fiction... well, sorta... than fantasy, but is a fascinating exploration of what VR could do/be like in the hands of a sentient computer.

(Read it, read it, read it!)


...and anyone else whose interested. ;)

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

Well, I've done this before, but I love you. So I'll do it again.