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June 07, 2005


Hhhmm. Tagged by the Ablutionites. Or the Head Ablution himself perhaps. Slightly unfair to ask someone not in an English speaking country about books he’s bought but however.

Number of books I own: 800 or so. A bit short I know as we only moved here 4 years ago. Brought none with us. I’ve lost a couple of libraries worth in moves over the years.

Last book I bought: "A Blueprint for Survival"  from The Ecologist (1970 ish). Research for an article. Monbiot seems not to have moved on in his thinking from this book at all.

Last book I (re) read: "Jingo", Terry Pratchett. Love the whole series, re read them (and things like Tom Holt, PJ O’ Rourke etc) as light relief (after things like The Ecologist claptrap) over a pint or two in the evening.

Five books that mean a lot to me.

"Gulag Archipelago. First read this in Moscow while certain near comic fascists were mounting a coup outside. They failed but I spent three days indoors waiting and reading and finishing the three volumes. Quite gloriously written, horrifying and certainly a large part of my current mistrust of those with governmental solutions to anything.

" Gorky Park" and the rest of the series with Arkady Renko.  When in Moscow we lived just next door to Arkady’s office at 38 Petrovka. I didn’t know Russia in Soviet times but the descriptions of Moscow post Gorby in Red Square were spot on.

"The Affluent Society" JK Galbraith. His ideas were never really very good and they’ve all been disproved but the man can certainly write. The first book that sparked my interest in economics as a teenager. I’ll almost forgive him the poverty his ideas imposed upon India for introducing me to the subject.

"The Skeptical Environmentalist." Bjorn Lomborg. I’d seen some things (O’Rourke’s  "All the Trouble in the World" and some papers) on how most environmental problems are not only not as bad as they are made out to be they are also things that we know how to solve, so many of them being Tragedies of the Commons. Thefirst time someone had collated the facts in such mind numbing detail and leading me to my current view that so much of what is wrong with both the environment and environmentalists is that they will not listen to economists.

"I Pencil" by I forget who. Short essay on how many people are invloved in the manufacture of a pencil, none of whom actually knows how to make the complete article. The division of labour, markets to exchange information, the futility of central p[lanning, all in a coupleofthousnad words. No wonder Milton Friedman loves it.

Then there’s all the ones you would expect me to say, Wealth of Nations, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Free to Choose, Brave New World, HHGTTG, The Panda’s Thumb....and ABSOLUTELY NO RUSSIAN OR FRENCH LITERATURE AT ALL. As the Peej once pointed out, Leo, we don’t want to know why she threw herself under the train nor are we interested in what the peasants think of reform, we want to know why she screwed the guy in the first place.

Passing this on to Lemuel, Chris, Robert, Tim and he who cannot be named.

June 7, 2005 | Permalink


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Blimey! I have been tagged! Tim Worstall passed along a book meme that has been meandering around for some time. I guess it was inevitable that it finally reached yours truly - a self-proclaimed bibliophile. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 7, 2005 10:56:16 PM


OI! Hands off! I got first!

Posted by: EasyJetsetter | Jun 7, 2005 10:34:42 PM

>I Pencil by I forget who

Leonard E. Read.

Posted by: Scott Campbell at Blithering Bunny | Jun 7, 2005 10:34:59 PM

Where d'you get blaming JKG for the poverty of India? "The Nature of Mass Poverty" is an extraordinarily sensible book and I'm pretty sure its ideas haven't been tried out anywhere.

Tim adds: Me being sloppy no doubt, for I haven’t read that book. I just gernally associate JKG and his views (along with those of people like the Webbs) for the "Hindu rate of growth".

Posted by: dsquared | Jun 8, 2005 8:06:49 AM

I'd thoroughly recommend TNOMP; I think you'd find it surprisingly ideology-free. JKG's main Big Idea in it (derived from his time as US Ambassador to India, despite being a Canadian, go figure) is that every underdeveloped population contains a majority of lumpens who are "accomodated to poverty" and a small minority of entrepreneurial types, and that there is basically no point in giving aid to anyone other than the nonaccomodated elite. Quite bracing stuff really ...

Posted by: dsquared | Jun 8, 2005 3:27:09 PM

Gulag Archipelago is just great. You can feel the urge of writing for someone that long been silenced.

Posted by: Antti | Jun 8, 2005 5:30:40 PM

Who can forget anything when there's Google? I, pencil. I'll read it when I get a mo.

Posted by: Backword Dave | Jun 10, 2005 11:26:28 AM

Gorky Park rocks. Having read it after being to Moscow in Winter, you can feel the cold and smell the city through the pages of the book.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jun 11, 2005 11:43:01 AM