Libertarian Book Tag
Number of Books I Own: This is the first time I've sat down to count them. As best as I can determine, I have 142 books, the vast majority being paperback.
Last Book I Purchased: I don't tend to buy singly. The last batch I bought consisted of
- The Bold and Magnificent Dream: America's Founding Years, 1492-1815, by Bruce Catton and William B. Catton (1978, hardback)
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, preface by Christopher Morley (1992, hardback)
- a collection of quotations crammed into a tiny book that I think was published by Merriam-Webster sometime around 1995-1996. I can't find it now.
Last Book I Read: I finished Murray Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty about two weeks ago. I wish I had tackled it earlier; his systemic approach helped me in several ways and clarified my thinking a bit. I've decided to focus my wordly attention on Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology for the moment. During my lunches at work, I'm busy working through Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Anarcho-Capitalism: An Annotated Bibliography, a collection of links to anarchy-related articles in The Journal of Libertarian Studies.
Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me: Oh, gawd.
- Just about any Calvin and Hobbes publication by Bill Watterson.
I grew up reading his cartoon and have remained a fan ever since. I would have a very different personality if I wasn't exposed to Calvin's cynicism and Hobbes' optimism. Something worth noting: In October of this year, a massive 1440-page Compete set will be available for $95. I've got six of the compilations, but this is already making me salivate.
- The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy.
I cannot emphasize how much of an impact Clancy's writing and stories had. It was around 1990 and I was living in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. At the time, my dad had his books shelved in the living room and I remember the well-worn spine of the paperback standing out among the others. I was only 10, but I picked it up out of boredom one day and started reading. A few hundred pages later, I was hooked on the "techno-thriller" genre and over the years read the Jack Ryan plot arc steadily until the mid-1990's, when my interest fell off. My appetite for technical detail and my attention to the small things that make a large impact later stems almost entirely from this book. And yes, I liked the movie.
- The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand.
This was the first written work of hers that I read from beginning to end. I've got the mammoth 35th anniversary hardback edition of Atlas Shrugged, but even though that novel covered greater philosophical acreage in more detail, I prefer the prose of the earlier book. I by no means was well-read politically or philosophically when I started The Fountainhead (I was 22), but the head-on contrarianism that infused the writing woke me up. I was already teetering on the edge of open libertarianism and this helped complete the transformation. Howard Roark remains an inspiration to this day.
- The Dark Elf Trilogy, by R. A. Salvatore.
It isn't hard to find someone who'll sling mud in the direction of Dungeons & Dragons and the novels the game spawned. I think the Drizzt Do'Urden books stand as a sharp rebuke to those folks. I have taken a modified form of Drizzt's name as my standard Internet identity for many years. I still have not finished the full story arc that he's involved with, but the essential Drizzt remains with me. Quiet, but fierce when provoked, always holding himself to a higher standard, an outsider who has trouble engaging with others, someone who is keenly aware of the dangers others can present; the ideals espoused in this character and the hideous ideologies he combats are concepts I keep in mind every day.
- Yahoo! Unplugged: Your Discovery Guide to the Web by David Filo and Jerry Yang.
Folks, this 516 page monster was published in 1995 and includes a CD-ROM containing version 1.01 of Quaterdeck Mosaic, the README.txt of which states, "now includes support for additional HTML extensions, including Backgrounds, font color and borders." There was no Google. Most people used 14.4k modems to get online. The concept of "chatroom" was just beginning to take form. When I got this book for my 15th birthday, Microsoft hadn't even released it's first version of Internet Explorer to the public. This book attempted to provide a comprehensive catalogue of the better websites in the Yahoo! directory (at the time said to number more than 100,000). It fueled my fascination with computers and technology and helped me get a head start online.
An honorable mention goes to Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. I picked this from a list of novels I had to read for my 10th grade English class and was (if you'll excuse the pun) blown away by his description of the effects of a nuclear war in a small Florida town. My first exposure to an unintentionally anarcho-capitalist community fighting to survive. If I hadn't read that, then George Orwell's 1984 would have taken it's place for all the important and obvious reasons.
Tag Five More People:
I already know what Billy Beck might say. Jim Henley qualified himself. Kevin Carson has done his share. Jesse Walker Reasoned in. Jay Jardine posted from the Great White North. Mapmaster at The London Fog tossed in a post in addtition to Lisa's. So...
...the blog is in your court.