Littera Scripta Manet


in Books and literature, Daily updates

Emily and I have devised a scheme for mutual education: we are each to select five books that the other person will read. Each book is assigned the span of one month to be acquired, read (however challenging it may be), and commented upon on respective blogs. My comments will obviously be here; hers will be on eponymous horn (like me, she has ensured eternal confusion by having a title unrelated to her URI). Discussion can then occur between the two of us and other readers by means of comments.

The intent behind the scheme is to select books that are both educational in themselves and revealing insofar as they reflect the character of the person who recommended them. Indeed, books that played a substantial role in developing character could be ideal for this sort of exchange.

I am going to need to spend some time seriously contemplating what ought to be on my list. One virtually never gets the opportunity to make a claim on so much of another person’s time.

Which books would the varied and interesting readers of this blog select?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Litty November 17, 2007 at 7:26 pm

How do you get the time and energy for all this?

R.K. November 17, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Any ideas what books you will choose?

Scientific works? Political ones? Legal? Economic?

Milan November 18, 2007 at 9:10 pm

A few books I have been considering:

  • Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake.
  • Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game.
  • Card, Orson Scott. Maps in a Mirror.
  • Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene.
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
  • Gibson, William. Neuromancer.
  • Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe.
  • Herbert, Frank. Dune.
  • Ignatieff, Michael. Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism.
  • Keegan, John. A History of Warfare.
  • Kundera, Milan. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
  • Milton, John. Paradise Lost.
  • Rushdie, Salman. The Moor’s Last Sigh.
  • Schneier, Bruce. Beyond Fear.
  • Singh, Simon. Fermat’s Last Theorem.
  • Stoppard, Tom. Arcadia
  • Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina.
  • Vaillant, John. The Golden Spruce.
  • Weisman, Alan . The World Without Us

Clearly, I am going to need to pare things down. The Keegan might be a good place to start: it’s an excellent book, and probably almost entirely new information for her.

Milan November 18, 2007 at 9:43 pm

The Great Gatsby is off the list, as Emily has already read it. Indeed, she played two roles in a stage production of it.

Milan November 18, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Another possibility is books that seemed very significant at one point in time, but have since lost potency. Two examples would be The Andromeda Strain (which I read about 50 times in elementary school) and My Side of the Mountain.

Alena November 20, 2007 at 12:24 am

How about something by Solzhenitsyn, Zola, or Steinbeck?

Milan November 20, 2007 at 9:26 am


They are meant to be books that I have read. I have read a bit of Steinbeck and, while it was worthwhile, it isn’t what I would consider essential reading.

. November 22, 2007 at 9:32 am

Emily has posted a list of books she may assign for me to read:

An List of Literature

Milan May 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm

This passage on strategy from a Malcolm Gladwell article reminds me of both John Keegan’s writing on the social and cultural aspects of war and of the section in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game when he dominates at Battle School by breaking conventions:

“This is the second half of the insurgent’s creed. Insurgents work harder than Goliath. But their other advantage is that they will do what is “socially horrifying”—they will challenge the conventions about how battles are supposed to be fought. All the things that distinguish the ideal basketball player are acts of skill and coördination. When the game becomes about effort over ability, it becomes unrecognizable—a shocking mixture of broken plays and flailing limbs and usually competent players panicking and throwing the ball out of bounds. You have to be outside the establishment—a foreigner new to the game or a skinny kid from New York at the end of the bench—to have the audacity to play it that way. George Washington couldn’t do it. His dream, before the war, was to be a British Army officer, finely turned out in a red coat and brass buttons. He found the guerrillas who had served the American Revolution so well to be “an exceeding dirty and nasty people.” He couldn’t fight the establishment, because he was the establishment.”

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