Book Meme

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 10, 2006

Filed under: Nerd Culture 12 comments

Too busy to be creative today. Let’s do one of those memes, of which I was making fun yesterday. Let’s see… Don has a good one: A Book Meme.

To keep this interesting, let us append the qualifier “besides the Bible” to all of the following. Otherwise, my list would be rather homogenous.

  1. One book that changed your life
    A Wrinkle in Time was the first book I ever loved. I was in fourth grade. As an adult, Screwtape Letters actually had a large effect on me. The book is quite small and simple, but it gave me some very handy tools for thinking about the Christian life in different ways.

  2. One book that you've read more than once
    Fellowship of the Ring. I read the other two books only rarely, but I’ve taken in Fellowship many, many times.

  3. One book you'd want on a desert island
    Laying aside the fact that I’d mostly likely die within a week if deprived of my medicine: Some sort of survivalist book. For beginners. With pictures. Maybe even some sort of survivalist pop-up book, which contained various tools and devices within its pages.

  4. One book that made you laugh
    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In my youth I read it a couple of dozen times. I’m sort of afraid to revisit it after all this time. Will it still be funny?

  5. One book that made you cry
    Never happened. I don’t go in for sad books, I guess.

  6. One book that you wish had been written
    “Why Shamus Young is Totally the Greatest Guy Ever, Volume X” But wishing for that book is silly. I’d settle for just a Wiki.

  7. One book that you wish had never been written
    I don’t know. Are we trying to alter history or just avoid reading something that sucked? If the former, then I guess Mein Kampf or the various things Marx put to paper could be a good choice, although I’m always wary of messing with the timesteam. Haven’t we learned anything from Star Trek?

    If we just want to blot something from history to avoid reading it, then I nominate Day of the Delphi as an example of something that was published to the detriment of human culture. Utter sophomoric tripe. As proof: How many fiction books have a webpage dedicated to detailing all the ways in which it sucks? (And in fact, the author of that page is unduly kind in my view. There are many additional flaws that he does not bother to enumerate. He read it in order to familiarize himself with the Technothriller genre. That’s like watching Plan 9 From Outer Space as an introduction to sci-fi.) Take the Tom Clancy technothriller formula, hand it to an author who knows nothing about firearms, goverment, or military equipment, replace the main characters with stale b-movie hero archetypes and various Weathermen-style 60’s radical leftovers (as good guys), and then run the whole plot through some sort of John Woo stupidifier. Some books aren’t worth the paper on which they are printed, but Day of the Delphi isn’t worth the cubic volume of air that the book displaces.

  8. One book you're currently reading
    (Blush) Fellowship again.

  9. One book you've been meaning to read
    The System of the World books. I read the first in the series – Baroque Cycle – but got bogged down because the whole cast was a bunch of miserable cusses. I know there’s gold in the later books, I just need to suck it up and get through the plague, torture, slavery, frighteningly bad medicine, war, gross food, bad hygene, crushing opression, and the general prevailing theme that life in the seventeenth century was horrible, violent, and short.

  10. Tag 5 people
    Five? Stinking extroverts. Hmmmm. I can’t “tag” Steven, as he hasn’t upgraded his site from Stone Tablets and Chisel version 1.0. I could tag Don, who I got the meme from in the first place, but that would cause the meme to collapse in on itself and form a singularity. So let’s not do that. Lots of other people I read deal with a subject in particular (such as Anime) so tagging them would be an implicit request for them to break the theme of their site. What happens if I tag someone and they simply don’t feel like answering the questions? Doen’t this seem sort of pushy? Hey! Blog about books because I linked you!

    Anyway, if these questions interest you then by all means: Knock yourself out. But in the interest of fulfilling the request for an arbitrary five tags…

    My wife.
    Let’s also ask Fuzzy.
    And Augury.
    Let’s see if Mark will give up talking about movies long enough to talk about books.
    How about Beware the %Kawaii no wait… that just leads back to Don again.
    Tunes for Tancos? Nope. Don again. Come on, man! You’re hogging the internet. Save some room for the rest of us.

I picked this meme because I thought it would be a good way to bang out a ten-minute post, and I just blew a half hour on it. Whoops. Back to work.

FURTHER REFLECTION: Doesn’t this “tagging” business go counter to the idea of a meme? A meme is supposed to spread on its own, because people find the idea attractive or interesting. The “tag” thing seems to be a way to artificially spread a meme that wouldn’t otherwise cut it.


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12 thoughts on “Book Meme

  1. The “tag” thing makes it a chain letter.

  2. Nathan H. says:

    I think that “tagging” is exactly part of a successfully propagating meme. A “viral” meme is an idea so neat, you have to tell all your friends about it, and then they think it’s so neat that they tell all their friends about it. A meme that does not encourage it’s host to communicate, will soon be an extinct meme.

  3. HC says:

    I second Nathan. What makes you think that ‘tagging’ isn’t the meme spreading on its own?

  4. Shamus says:

    I second Nathan. What makes you think that “˜tagging' isn't the meme spreading on its own?

    The same as the difference between one of those emails you just HAVE to forward to someone, and one of those emails that says “please forward this to all your friends”.

    I think there is something admirable about a meme that makes it on it’s own, without you trying to provoke continued propigation. Now that Steven mentioned it, the “tag 5 people” does feel chain letterish. This is not a bad thing and does not reduce a good meme to a bad one, but I find it unappealing.

    Some blog ciricles are different though. This may be an age thing. The younger set is always tagging and poking and sending shout-outs and such…

    I was going to go on, but I realized I’m about to start classifying memes into sub-types and I really need to stop doing that sort of thing.

  5. Heather says:

    I did it, only because I couldn’t resist. I always feel guilty tagging anyone and if it is a tag style I feel silly doing it without being tagged. When I posted it I took the tag off. Hates it. PRefer choose your own Meme anyday, though I prefer ones that have a Mr. Linky attached so you can see who else has done it. After I finished writng mineI realized that I am a book snob. I really am and I admit it.

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  7. -Chipper says:

    1. I loved the Hitchhiker’s Guide series as a teen/twenty. Now 40ish tried to re-read & they’ve lost their fun for me- partly because I already know all the jokes. Partly perhaps because they’ve been so imitated that there’s no surprise in the humor even if I didn’t remember the specific joke.
    2. I’ve read a lot of what you have. I’m re-reading Watership Down. Great book of adventure.

  8. Ermel says:

    The Hitch Hiker’s Guide is still as much fun to me now in my mid-30s as it was in my early 20s when I first read it. But I like Douglas Adams’ other books even more. Also, the recently completed radio series is a worthwhile way to waste a couple of days.

    About making you cry, books that do that to me needn’t necessarily be sad. They’re more often just so good that it hurts (Adams again, especially “Last Chance to See” and parts of “Salmon of Doubt”, though those are kind of sad in fact), or just so funny that I laugh until I cry (last time this happened was in “Cryptonomicon”, the incident with the pig transporting truck vs. The Grace of God — priceless!).

  9. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Pratchett. Definitely Pratchett. The Discworld has to be the cleverest form of social satire around. And it’s funny. Strangely, most satire really isn’t. It helps that there are now so many books that if I picked up the first one and started again I would likely have forgotten all of the jokes…

    Started reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, primarily because of the write-up he received in Dragon magazine. Seemed like something right up my alley: steampunk fantasy!

  10. rayen says:

    with three years of hindsight now i think that we as geeks can all agree that the answer to 7, is without a doubt, Twilight.

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