by Kieran Healy on April 12, 2005

Peter Briffa “passes the latest meme thingy”:http://publicinterest.blogspot.com/2005/04/via-peter-cuthbertson-youre-stuck.html on to Crooked Timber. It’s a good job I never became a major celebrity (it was touch-and-go for a while there) because I am useless with these kinds of questions, and celebrities seem to get asked them all the time. I never know what my favorite _x_ (color, food, piece of music, composer, book, whatever) is; I can rarely remember the right answer to the “What’s the last …?” questions; and I can never think up a good response to the “If you only had …?” questions. This one is no different.

For instance:

_You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?_
I don’t even understand the premise of this question. Is this supposed to be a book I want to burn? A book I want to save? Why would you want to be a book (of all things) in _Fahrenheit 451_ anyway? Surely you’d rather be a TV set or something.

*Update*: A co-blogger who is much better read than me emails to explain the premise behind the question. In the novel, the rebels end up memorizing books and reciting them to each other. That makes things much clearer. Now I can confidently answer: I don’t know. Obviously not _Fahrenheit 451_, as my memory of the novel (I read it when I was 13 or 14) does not include this detail.

_Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?_
Um, no.

_What are you currently reading?_
“This goddamn thread”:http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2005/04/lire_le_capital.html about the labor theory of value on Brad DeLong’s blog made me go back and look at Robert Paul Wolff’s “Understanding Capital”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691022313/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/, Duncan Foley’s “Understanding Capital”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674920880/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ (notice the pattern here) and Maurice Dobb’s “Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521099366/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/. These are three excellent books. The issue they treat is fascinating in the same way that, e.g., a big red button labeled “Do Not Push This Button” is fascinating, and absorbing in the way that, e.g., a giant squid-like alien’s stomach is absorbing.

_The last book you bought is:_
“Origins of the European Economy”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521661021/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ by Michael McCormick. I wish I could say that buying this book has increased the probability I will read it, but “past experience”:https://crookedtimber.org/2003/12/16/books-i-did-not-read-this-year tells me this is not the case.

_The last book you read:_
I think the last novel I read all the way through was “Something Rotten”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0670033596/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ by Jasper Fforde. Pretty disappointing in comparison to the first two in that series. And I think the last non-fiction book I read all the way through was “The Internationalization of the Palace Wars”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226144267/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ by Yves Dezalay and Bryant Garth.

_Five books you would take to a deserted island:_
Sorry, no idea. Am I ever coming back from this island? I know you’re supposed to choose some great classic of world literature, but frankly I’d probably go insane within a couple of months anyway and I can’t imagine Proust would do anything to stave that off. Does my PowerBook count? Maybe there’ll be wireless access.

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Crooked Timber » » Bandwagonin’!
04.13.05 at 2:32 pm



f&w 04.12.05 at 4:31 pm

Ah-ha! I am not the only one who reads Poor Mojo’s Almanack!


f&w 04.12.05 at 4:32 pm

Glad to see that someone else reads Poor Mojo’s Almanack.


asg 04.12.05 at 7:52 pm

In Fahrenheit 451, being a book refers to being the one who has memorized that book (only one person memorizes each book, to minimize duplication of effort). So the question is really asking: which book would you most want to memorize, if you knew that whichever book you picked, no one else would memorize?


Anthony 04.13.05 at 1:09 am

I thought it was central to this meme that you would then send this to others.


Cruella 04.13.05 at 6:37 am

For the desert island I’d like:

1) Edible plants and animals of the world’s desert regions

2) The complete survival skills handbook

3) A beginner’s guide to raft-making

4) Any book with a mirrored panel on the front to use attracting attention from passing ships by reflecting sunlight

5) A very large waterproof-sheet-type childrens “bath” book, from which to construct the roof of a basic dwelling

is that cheating?


dsquared 04.13.05 at 8:18 am

Not cheating, but it doesn’t really tell us much about you, which is kind of the point.


Kieran Healy 04.13.05 at 8:21 am

_I thought it was central to this meme that you would then send this to others._

I feel if a meme can’t manage to replicate on its own, what business do I have artificially enhancing its fitness?


Cruella 04.13.05 at 10:41 am

Hey it tells you I’m not the sort to sit around getting cold and hungry unnecessarily!

If anyone is following the UK elections and in particular the nauseating Conservative advertising campaign, they may like to pass the afternoon contemplating a hilarious caption for this little game:


I will be posting up the best suggestions sent to me here:


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