The book thing

Expat Yank tagged me with this while on vacation, and I’m just getting around to it. Here goes:

1. Total Number of Books I Own: No idea. Probably about 1000-1500 not counting gaming books or comic books. There are a lot of books I had when I was younger that I just can’t find. And I had around 200 of my dad’s old S.F. paperbacks for a long time but returned them because I felt guilty about taking them with when I moved out. Then he threw them away.

2. The Last Book I Bought: Either America’s Secret War by George Friedman or one of the 76 DOCTOR WHO paperbacks I bought on eBay. I’ll be excerpting the Friedman book soon on MO, and I swear the Doctor Who books are for my kids. Mostly.

3. The Last Book I Read: The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien’s Divine Design in “The Lord of the Rings” by Fleming Rutledge. This is the best LOTR analysis I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, the author insists on also making numerous analogies to the invasion of Iraq, and they don’t really seem to hold up. But that’s worth overlooking.

4. Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me: Well, this is a hard one. And as I’ve thought about it I’m surprised that fiction seems to really have made the biggest impression.

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Listing that is probably a cop-out, as I’m sure many others have it on their list also. But I don’t think I can overstate the influence that the adventures of the Hobbits and their companions had on me, especially at more-impressionable younger ages. I’ve probably read it two dozen times (maybe more), but the cock crowing at dawn during the Siege of Gondor still brings a tear to my eye.

2. Incredible Victory by Walter Lord. The Battle of Midway. Some of the info is a bit outdated, since more has come to light in the years since it was written. But it’s a classic.

3. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. From the back in the days when the “techno-thriller” genre wasn’t a wasteland of copy-cats. I was simply in awe.

4. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. It’s hard to pick this over HEART OF DARKNESS, but there it is. I once wrote a screenplay based upon this story set in turn of the (last) century Alaska, and despite an obvious need for revision, looking back at it I still think it’s pretty good.

5. Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer. Before I read this, I listened to the audiobook. I believe that my jaw hung open the entire time. Unbelievable.

So there you have it. Certainly not a complete picture in any way, but a glimpse into the mystery of Murdoc. Now go get counseling.

In the spirit of spreading the madness, I invite five other bloggers to participate in the book thing: James Rummel, A.E. Brain, Frank Warner, Chris Hall, and Airborne Combat Engineer. Participation is entirely voluntary. If you don’t want to, let me know so that I can badger you about it. If you’ve already played this game, let me know so I can badger someone else.

Now I’ve got to go finish THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG…


  1. Red Storm Rising was mind blowing for me at the time. I read it in two days the first time. Sorry to hear about your Dad’s SF books. My wife threw out the copy of ‘War Through the Ages’ my Dad gave me (she said it smelled bad) – not a good day in the Bram house when I found out (after the garbage truck was gone). I highly recommend reading ‘Starship Troopers’ by Robert Heinlein (not watching the bad movie). The best military SF ever. I presently waiting for ‘Olympos’ by Dan Simmons to drop June 28th. It is the sequel to ‘Ilium’ which combined the Iliad and Sci-Fi. Great book for us weirdos who like both ancient military history and Science Fiction.

  2. Here’s my contribution to the’GREAT’ book list. It’s a TRUE story, masterfully written by an author obcessed by detail. THIS IS A SUPER MUST READ! ‘SHADOW DIVERS’ By Robert Kurson Random House, $26.95 You don’t have to know or care about high-risk open-ocean wreck diving to appreciate Robert Kurson’s ‘Shadow Divers.’ Your interest in aquatic matters can start with a glass of water and end with a shower and you will still recognize this true story as one of the most engaging tales you’ll read this year. Kurson’s divers are world-class underwater explorers from New Jersey who come upon every diver’s dream: a virgin wreck they soon realize is a Nazi submarine. Now all they have to do is identify it, which sounds like the easy part and is not, because neither U.S. nor German records show a U-boat sunk anywhere near this site, some 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. Putting a name and number to the dark, mysterious boat – never mind figuring out how it came to rest there – will cost its finders thousands of dollars and years of frustration. As time and nature permit, they explore the wreck in the water. As the rest of their lives permit, they chase its paper trail on land. More than a dozen divers have a role in the drama, but Kurson focuses on the two the mystery will consume: John Chatterton and Richie Kohler. Chatterton is a restless soul who discovered in Vietnam he felt most alive when challenging death. He dives largely to go beyond where all other divers have gone.

  3. Man, you are two guys right after my own heart. Bram: ‘Mind blowing’ is exactly the term I should have used for RED STORM RISING. I read it right after THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER on a long driving trip (where I didn’t drive at all but sat in the back seat reading for two days straight). Couldn’t put it down. Toejam: You are exactly correct about the SHADOW DIVERS. I received it for my birthday last fall from my brother, but just got around to reading it last month. Very good stuff. I kept going to my wife: ‘These guys, they just strap on the tanks and drop down to 220 feet. It takes a couple of minutes to get there. 220 feet! That’s amazing. 220 feet!’ Plus, I pulled out my copy of CHRONOLOGY OF THE WAR AT SEA and drew a line through the entry on the U-869’s sinking near Africa. I wrote ‘Off the coast of Jersey’ in the margin. A truly incredible book, but I opted to include INTO THIN AIR on my list instead, as that one really shook me to my foundations. It’s hard to pick just five books to go on record with…

  4. Bram, You might also dig Joe Halderman’s ‘Forever War’. Interspecies conflict, atomic-powered armored infantry, spaceships, and physics. Plenty of physics.

  5. ‘Forever War’ is high on my to read list – it was checked out last time I visited the library. I’m actually in the middle of ‘Camouflage’ by Halderman right now – not bad so far.

  6. Dear Murdoc, I don’t want to belabor this book business, but I feel the following book is a MUST. It’s a SUPER READ. It was written 25 years ago so it might be hard to come by. It’s a fictional account, which begins at the end of WW-II and follows the SUCCESSFUL efforts of a begruntled Luftwaffe corporal who spends 25 years searching and finally finding a long forgotten and well hidden V-1 site in the French countryside in the 1970’s, making it operational and firing several ‘buzz bombs’ at modern day London. TITLE: ‘THE 81st SITE’ By: Tony Kenrick Type: English : Book : Fiction Publisher: New York : New American Library, –

  7. Toejam: I think I started reading that when I was a kid (probably about the time it came out) but I didn’t get very far before I had to return it to the library. A few times over the years I’ve thought of it, but I had no idea what the title was or who wrote it. I’ve gone and put it on hold at my library. Thanks for the tip.