Oooooooooo!!! We've been tagged, we've been tagged, we've been tagged!!! [Skips up and down] This is very flattering, we are positively shouting from the rooftops, I say. We have also been accused of making lists, we haven't made lists in ages! Time has lists, but do you see anyone tagging Time? No, sirree.
Be that as it may (and it is), this tag is an 'n' interesting. If you're wondering what 'n' means, we'll have to do '3-dimensional surrender', 'general Olympics' and deesh.
Total number of books owned
We make a distinction between 'owned', and 'bought'. Rough estimates on the latter are 300-350 in Hyderabad, maybe 2 dozen in Vizag, and about a dozen that have been 'borrowed'. If, however, we speak of 'owned', there is a whole wall of crumbly books that is sitting in Vizag that we will inherit. That is, shortly after we have gagged and bound the sibling and dropped her into one of her precious croc pits, and laced amma's tea with some suitably humane toxin.
Last book(s) we bought
This was on Saturday. At Walden, we bought John Keay's When Men and Mountains Meet : The Explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-1875 and Confronting Love, edited by Jerry Pinto and Arundhati Subramaniam. We then proceeded to waddle over to Odyssey (mainly for the cafe), and mysteriously ended up buying India Discovered by a certain John Keay (Yes, we've decided to own all John Keays. Our recommendation to donors is that when that "Got to give Ludwig a book!!!" impulse seizes you, check with us, and give us a Keay we do not own yet. We will grovel at your Lotus feet in abject humility and gratitude.)
Last books(s) we read
The broken record continues. We read Sowing The Wind. We also re-read a bunch of books we'd already read, but what's the fun in that?
Books we are currently reading
Apart from dipping into the ones we bought this weekend, we are engaged in concurrently reading Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux and another book. We really like Theroux because he is observatory (yes, his pet name is Jantar Mantar) and sarcastic, and sympathetic when necessary. If we could, we would make a living out of doing what Theroux did. We also like Theroux because he grew up in Meffid, and he keeps referring to Meffid, and Summahville and Cambridge, and Baws'hn in his writings. We may have done some long runs near his house when we were circumambulating the Mystic Lakes in the summer of '03.
We are also re-dipping into The Riemann Hypothesis. One of these days, we'll understand the whole damn thing, prove (or disprove) it, pocket a cool million, and retire.
Five books that we have really enjoyed or influenced me
Five? Five??? This seems to be the response that all self respecting reader types seem to be giving to this koschan. Nevertheless, we will shamelessly plagiarize an idea floated by the jester and and idea floated by the individual under the influence of infusions made from an Amazonian giant vine, and implement here.
Somerset Maugham - Of Human Bondage
Harper Lee - To Kill A Mockingbird
J.R.R.Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings, Silmarillon (when you're a certain age and are at certain institutes, this can't be helped, sorry)
Lawrence Durrell - The Alexandria Quartet
R.K.Narayan - Swami and Friends
Also Jack Kerouac - On The Road, Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Crime and Punishment, Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient, Kazuo Ishiguro - Remains of the Day, Haruki Murakami - Wild Sheep Chase, Kiran Nagarkar - Seven Sixes are Forty Three and so on. This is really pointless.
John Keay - The Honourable Company (well, this was the first, but needed to be read)
James McPherson - Battle Cry of Freedom
Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs and Steel
V. Narayana Rao, David Shulman, Sanjay Subrahmanyam - Textures of Time: Writing History in South India
Crease & Mann - The Second Creation
Stephen Dobyns - Pallbearers Envy The One Who Rides
Coleman Barks's Rumi book
Various - Making Love To Marilyn Monroe
V. Narayana Rao, David Shulman - A Poem at the Right Moment: Remembered Verses from Pre-modern South India. This is a must have. [Nudges violently :)]
Constantine Cavafy - The Complete Poems of Constantine Cavafy
This is getting tiresome, we stop here. There are several other 'influential' books (Alistair Maclean who set off the whole Navy obsession, Commando comics which set off the whole Rommel obsession, Rani Mukherjee who set off the whole Jibanananda Das obsession, Ruskin Bond who set off the Himalaya obsession, Kenneth Anderson who set off the whole South Indian wildlife obsession and so on).
Books we plan to buy next
Bit of a mystery. Only definite ones in mind are the Keay books, and Kolatkar's Kala Ghoda poems. This one we've been looking for high and low and not been able to find in Hyderabad.
Books that caught our attention but we have never read
Oh God, so many.
James Joyce - Pretty much everything, but Ulysses mostly
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Again, everything
Milan Kundera - Ditto
J.M.Coetzee - Ditto
And so on.
Books we own but have never got around to reading
Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace (Hello, Veena)
Douglas Hofstadter - Godel, Escher, Bach (started, but haven't finished, yet)
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath
Voltaire - Candide
Lawrence Durrell - The Avignon Quintet
People we are passing this on to
The loblolly, who never ceases to remind us how well-read she is; Srin, who with the addition of movie star hair has become a bona fide celebrity (even if she questions the existence of sepia); Deski, who has cooked a number of bun-omlettes and is waiting for public to consume; young Thos., maybe this will get him to post something finally; and Anand, because he will definitely have something interesting to say.