Total Number Of Books I've Owned
I do buy books rather than borrow them from the library. Just before I moved house I gave away some books to various charitable concerns, and there must have been about 100 or more. Yet still my shelves do creak. Too many.
The Last Book I Bought
The last book I bought was 'Bolland Strips!', a collection of the 'Actress & Bishop' and 'Mr Mamoulian' comics by Brian Bolland. But if I follow Pete's lead and discount comics, it would be 'Celebrities of the Army' from AbeBooks, an old collection of portraits of various high-up bods in the Victorian Army. It's a bit the worse for wear, being from 1903. If I really push this and discount that as primarily a picture book, then the last book I bought was 'Something Like an Autobiography' by Akira Kurosawa.
The Last Book I Read
'Something Like an Autobiography' by Akira Kurosawa. I haven't read much fiction in quite a while, but I will... 'Wuthering Heights' beckons.
Five Books That Mean a Lot To Me.
I don't think I've read any life-changing books* and was worried if I'd be able to come up with five that had any major impact, but actually, once I started thinking about it...
Year of the King by Antony Sher. A year in the life of Sher as he prepared and eventually played the role of Richard III for the RSC. Very inspiring for the effort and thought he put into his work, but also personal and touching at times, not to mention very funny. It is all the more interesting because, besides acting, Antony Sher's other creative outlet is sketching and painting. Name-dropping abounds, but it's good. I annotated and wrote a complete direction for King John with the energy gathered from reading this book (though an ever-diminishing cast prevented it from being staged), and I still go back to Sher's book for a boost when Rainbow Orchid loses momentum.
From Hell by Alan Moore. Chucking out the 'no comics' clause just for this. The size and scope of this story is mind-staggering, and I don't mean the physical size. The ideas whiz out of every panel, and I love it for exposing the thread that connects the past, present and future. Give it a tug and see the ripples. The annotations at the back are wonderful.
Complete Prose by Woody Allen. Cheating slightly as this is three books in one (Without Feathers, Getting Even and Side Effects). One of the very few books, perhaps the only one, that has me crying with laughter and clutching my sides in joyous agony as soon as I start reading the first page, no matter how many times. It's full of brilliance.
William Blake - The Complete Illuminated Books. Awe-inspiring, inspirational, stunning, and beautiful. I'm constantly wandering amongst the pages and soaking up the genius (just wish I could retain some it!).
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I loved this book and want to read it again (if only there weren't so many others on the list of 'want-to'). The humour and drama is top-quality, and two scenes in particular typify this; first of all Wemmick's wedding which had me giggling like an idiot on a train journey, "Hello! Here's a church! Let's go in! Hello! Here's Mrs Skiffins! Let's have a wedding!"), and then just a few pages later I had a lump in my throat and very misty eyes as the scene of Magwitch's death was played out. A truly great story.
* Actually there is one book that had a great effect on me, but it only just came to me for some reason. 'Bankei Zen - translations form the record of Bankei' by Peter Haskel was pretty influential on my thinking in my more formative years.