Now that it’s been established that meme means “Internet chain letter”, I’m happy enough to embrace the concept. Mark Bahnisch sent me the Book meme, which most of you will have seen already.

Total number of books I’ve owned
I haven’t counted, but I imagine it would be several thousand
The last book I bought:
“End of Poverty, The : Economic Possibilities for Our Time” (Jeffrey Sachs) I’ll probably try and review this soon. For the moment, I’ll just say that it’s the most plausible case for optimism about the possibilities open to us that I’ve seen for some time
The last book I read
“The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent” (Richard Florida) Again, more to come on this one soon.
Five books that mean a lot to me
This is a pretty hard one. I’m a voracious reader, but I’m also quite promiscuous, so I’ve been influenced a little by lots of different books. More generally, my mind is full of bits and pieces that I can’t recall where they came from. The Internet has been great in this respect. Anyway, here’s my list

George Orwell, Collected Essays Although adulation of Orwell is a bit of a cliche in the blogosphere and elsewhere, he really is worth it. If he were alive today, he’d be the greatest of bloggers

Raymond Williams “Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society” I’ve mentioned this before and a reader pointed out that there’s an updated version (a collective effort). I’ll try to track down the (rather lukewarm) review I read

Ursula Le Guin “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia” I reread this not long ago, and it was mentioned on this list also.

Anthony Trollope“The Warden” As an archbishop is supposed to have said, there’s no better way of spending a Saturday evening than in bed with a good Trollope. I love all the Barchester novels, but The Warden is the original and best

“Work for All: Full Employment in the Nineties” (John Langmore, John Quiggin) Some of it stands up well after ten years and some does not, but working on this book it certainly made a big difference to me. It was my first significant participation in public policy debate in Australia, and I haven’t let up since.

As with most chain letters, I think everyone has already had this one, but I’ll flick it on anyway to Jason Soon, Gianna, and Kim Weatherall. I’ll keep the remaining two places for commenters on this post (those who actually have a blog will have to wait another 15 seconds for the meme to propagate to them).

10 thoughts on “YAM

  1. Trollope is fabulous. My favourite Barchester novel is probably Barchester Towers, though it’s very hard to pick. Haven’t there been some cracker Trollope tv adaptations recently – The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right?

  2. John, I’d be very interested to see a post from you – if you follow up in these comments I might miss it – on ways in which you think your ““Work for All: Full Employment in the Ninetiesâ€? holds up well and ways in which it doesn’t.

  3. Hey! I passed on details of this meme in a reply to another thread. Can it be that JQ doesn’t notice these things on his very own blog?

    I also notice the old academic trick of boosting one’s own books. At least in the UK they aren’t as bare faced about making their own books required reading for courses as in Australia; in the UK they usually only recommend each other’s books.

  4. Orwell’s “Collected Essays” is a great call, but what a shame that Orwell never undestood enough economics to endorse Hayek’s views on the road to serfdom. He could see the point that Hayek was making (as did Keynes) but he persisted with the great fallacy that free markets caused the economic collapse of the 30s.
    If he had lived long enough to learn more economics he probably would have joined the revival of non-socialist liberalism and he would have been subjected to all the rubbish that was thrown at the so-called New Right. http://badanalysis.com/catallaxy/index.php?p=747

  5. …sorry, i see it’s slightly different. shows you how sick i am… never mind, it’s close enough for me to beg off for the moment.

  6. I read “The Warden” last year on the strength of your and Mark Bahnisch’s recommendations of Trollope. And thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to “Barchester Towers” now.

    Written in a very limpid and refreshing style. Whatever the antonym of “turgid”may be. Credible dialogue. And the moral issues were very nicely nuanced and calibrated.

  7. Rafe, its a mistake to hope that all the people you admire – and I’m assuming you admire Orwell (as I do) – would have been even more like you if they’d known more. Its more intersting to give them a bit more credit than that.

    And Hayek’s views in the Road to Serfdom were right on the money about the evil of totalitarian systems and central planning, but not too accurate in their depiction of the ‘slippery slope’ – ie the idea that state intervention in democratic countries leads inevitably to the slide into totalitarianism.

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