1. Total number of books I've owned: Incalculable thousands upon thousands. On many occasions I have had clear-outs and donated vast numbers to charity shops. I have often ended up re-buying further copies and have since resolved never ever to get rid of any books unless I am certain I’ll never want to read them again. I would estimate my current crop at perhaps 1,200, but I could be way off in either direction with that estimate.
2. Last book I bought: ‘Sir John Dering’, by Jeffrey Farnol. Found on e-bay, maybe 30 years after I’d last read it. An old-fashioned novel set in the reign of Queen Anne, with romance and duelling and smugglers and dubious powdered wigs. Not great literature, but enjoyable nonetheless.
3. Last book read, or am currently reading: I started reading Terry Pratchett’s ‘Going Postal’ on October 4th, when curiouswombat bought it for me for my birthday, but I still haven’t finished it. It’s the wrong size to fit into my pocket and so I can’t read it on the bus on the way to and from work; somehow I just haven’t managed to get into it enough to read it at home. It doesn’t seem to be up to his usual standard from what I’ve read so far. The book I’ve read all the way through most recently is Seafighters, by James Cobb; an excellent techno-thriller that does fit into my pocket.
4. 5 Books that mean a lot to me:
Ringworld, by Larry Niven. The book that gave me my net alias, and an almost perfect piece of SF.
The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers. Time travel just doesn’t get better than this.
A Taste For Death, by Peter O’Donnell. The Modesty Blaise books are what all other thrillers aspire to be but fall short; shame about the appalling film. They’re all wonderful but A Taste For Death is the best of all. The set-up and the villains are immaculate and it has perhaps the best fight scene ever written.
The Chinese Maze Murders, by Robert van Gulik. Historical detective novels are a big genre these days, but the Judge Dee books are the ones that kick-started them all and are still the best. Delightful characters, subtle plots, and a superb portrayal of T’ang Dynasty China.
The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. A different take on historical detection; the murder of the Princes in the Tower investigated by a modern (well, for the time she was writing) detective while he is convalescing from injury.
Those who know of my long membership of alt.fan.pratchett will puzzle over the absence of Pratchett from my list. I am a fan, no mistake, and The Last Continent is probably the funniest book I’ve ever read (my family live in Australia), but no Pratchett book quite makes my top 5.
5. Tagging frimfram and, as I’ve completely lost track of who else has or hasn’t done it, anybody else who volunteers.
I posted a 666-word character death ficlet earlier today. Not at a convenient time for the USA, and I know some of my readers have big F-lists and don’t always have time to catch up, so if you missed it it’s here: Crocodile Rock