Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Home Library Quiz

Courtesy of Mr. O'Rama. (I love this stuff. Why wouldn't I? I don't come off a complete schlepp.)

Test the mettle of your home library with this admittedly idiosyncratic and not to be taken seriously guide:

1. Oxford English Dictionary - all 20 volumes = 10 points Nope. But it's online, although you have to subscribe. Which I don't.
Oxford English Dictionary - small print with spyglass - 5 points Eh, no. I open, review, smell and caress it every time I go in the bookstore. But I don't own it. Yet. But see above.

2. Boswell's Life of Johnson - 2 points Yes. I even read it. (O.K., 30 years ago, but it still counts.)

3. Complete Works of Shakespeare - 2 points Yes. But the collection of individual tattered paperbacks is more useful.

4. Gibbon's Decline & Fall - 2 points Another damn, square book, eh Mr. Gibbon? Nope.

5. Proust's Remembrance of Things Past - 5 points Noooo, and I don't think I want to, either.

6. Catholic Catechism - 1 point Yes.

7. Companion to the Catholic Catechism - 3 points Yes.

8. At least one work by both Augustine and Aquinas - 2 points Yes.
the whole Summa - 5 points Yes and no. It's on line; everybody with a computer has it.

9. Catena Aureau - 5 points Yes.

10. Three bible versions - 3 points Yes. (And there are far more than that on line.)

11. At least two major philosophers - 2 points Yes. Of course, anyone who answered "yes" to question 8 gets this one of necessity.

12. A set of encyclopedias - 2 points Yes: an extremely battered (it went through a fire; bought it for a song) old Catholic Encyclopaedia, which is also on line so everyone with a computer, etc.

13. at least one art history book and poetry anthology - 1 point Yes. And even though there are others on the shelf, I insist that I qualify on the basis of my copy of Lady Butler: Battle Artist 1846 - 1933 for the first prong of the test and the Quiller Counch edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse, proper blue binding and bulletproof slip case and all for the second prong.

Now then. In my occasionally humble opinion, you could usefully dump the Proust and maybe even the Gibbon. (Wonderful English but the man is extremely irritating.) Instead fill up the shelves with Trollope, Dickens, Jane Austen, Chesterton, Belloc, and. .and. .well, I'm starting to stutter here. There are too many; it would fill up the blog entirely. An excellent list is John Senior's 1,000 good books programme. He said to forget the 100 Great Books, and read the 1,000 good books. You can find the list here.