So, here are my responses, for whatever they are worth.
How many books do I own?
c.10,000 (This includes a small collection of sf/f magazines - mainly IAsfm, Analog, and MF&SF).
I have not counted them in the last five years (since we moved).
Previously, I very diligently kept records of my purchases, and used a form of card catalogue system.
The library grew too big, and was split into the Historical Research Library (general non-fiction and classics), and The Erik Axton Library of Fantastic Fiction (fantasy & science fiction titles, the bulk being a 1,000 volume DAW Books collection). At the time of our move there was approximately 4,000 in each library. Subsequently, I disencumbered myself of approx. 500 sf/f titles. And, since then, I’ve probably added at least 2,500 titles (this includes some duplicates from a former business inventory). Recently I have begun uploading (800 to date) onto a database and using a new subject/category system.
What’s the last book I bought?
A stack of them.
But the first one I am reading is Carl G. Gustavson's A Preface to History (McGraw-Hill, 1955).
What’s the last book I read?
I have developed the (bad? - unusual?) habit of reading several volumes at one time.
Robert Ludlum's The Osterman Weekend (Bantam, 1982 )
A long story. As short as possible: I had seen that Sahara was possibly a nice action/adventure movie. I learned that it was an older book. I quickly obtained a few of Clive Cussler’s (of whom I had heardof but not bothered to read – his titles appeared interesting), and read Sahara before the movie went to the discount theatre (we basically never go to the regular, and might visit the discount a few times a year). While collecting the Cussler’s (I am a completist, and am only missing Vixen 03 to date), a ran across a recommendation for Robert Ludlum (by Cussler). Coincidently, I had also known of but never read any Ludlum; though I had seen The Bourne Identity(2002) and Osterman Weekend when it came out in 1983 (movies, that is). Thus I checked out a read The Bourne Identity (1980), then rented the movie (as I could only vaguely recall it) to re-view. Then I began Ludlum’s opus chronologically (as is my wont) and went on to The Scarlatti Inheritance (1970) and now The Osterman Weekend. Obviously, Ludlum is the better author of the two (I am also on the third Dirk Pitt adventure).
Currently at various stages in all of the following:
Timothy Weber's On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend (Baker, 2004)
Willem VanGemeren's The Progress of Redemption (Baker, 1995 )
Gordon & Campi, eds. Architect of the Reformation (Baker, 2004)
Heinrich Bullinger's Decades (Reformation Heritage, 2005 [1549-51])
Clive Cussler's Iceberg (Berkley, 2004 )
Alistair MacLean's When Eight Bells Toll (Collins, 1966) my fourth time, out-loud with my son!
John Owen's Works, Vol.5: Justification (Banner of Truth) on and off
Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (cheap edition) second time, stalled half-way for some reason.
What are the five books that mean the most to me?
This is a little tougher. Obviously, the Revelation of God to man, the Word, but that should go without saying.
The other five, in no particular order would be:
How Should We Then Live? (1976) by Francis A. Schaeffer - The book that showed me how ideas mattered in history, and the slippery-slope, or the devolution (against postmillennialist optimism), from a Christian worldview to a modernist-humanist (at that time) philosophy.
The Seduction of Christianity (1985) by Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon – The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The book I read several times and led me out of a vast deception, and began to show me how seriously corrupted by occultism evangelical Christianity was becoming. Note, since then (despite having read over a dozen of Hunt’s titles), I have been hesitant to take all of Hunt’s research at face value (due to various critiques), and would never endorse his work – en toto – especially since his latent reluctance to stop and smell the tulips has manifested itself in unreasoned and unreasonable attacks.
The Doctrine of Justification (1867) by James Buchanan – What can be said…the book that (almost) deals exhaustively with the most central doctrine - next to sola scriptura - of the Reformation. James White’s The God Who Justifies (Bethany House, 2001) was purported to be the modern equivalent of Buchanan’s work but, I believe, the definitive (taking into consideration the current crisis) modern work on justification has yet to appear.
The Bond of Love (2001) by David McKay – A beautiful comprehensive look at Covenant Theology in all of its ramifications. I have not yet begun to fully appreciate this work.
Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536-59) by John Calvin – The comprehensive systematic presentation of the reformed theology which I find in Scripture. The historical influence of this work on all aspects of reformed/presbyterian orthodoxy and orthopraxy is a significant aspect of its inclusion here. Time and reading will tell if a Brakel or Turretin might challenge Calvin’s position (but I doubt it).
All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Poular Culture - Kenneth A. Myers
A Philosophy of the Christian Religion - Edward J. Carnell
Amusing Ourselves to Death - Neil Postman
The Sovereignty of Grace - Arthur C. Custance
The Two Babylons - Alexander Hislop
To Save a Nation - D. R. Howard
The Romantic Manifesto - Ayn Rand
Heresies - Harold O. J. Brown
Studies in Saving Faith - A. W. Pink
Fire in the Minds of Men - James H. Billington
The Evolution of Civilizations - Carroll Quigley
Origin of the Nations - John Pilkey
The Illuminatus! Trilogy - Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
Secret Societies and Subversive Movements - Nesta H. Webster
The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man - Herman Witsius
The Defense of the Faith - Cornelius van Til
Systematic Theology (w/Prolegomena) - Louis Berkhof
A Christian's Reasonable Service - Wilhelmus a Brakel
Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics - Richard A. Muller
Institutes of Elenctic Theology - Francis Turretin
Decades - Heinrich Bullinger
Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism - Zacharius Ursinus
The Church of Christ - James Bannerman
Historical Theology - William Cunningham
Church History in Plain Language - Bruce Shelley
2000 Years of Christ's Power - Nick Needham
Books, in and of themselves, are hard pressed to be significant in regards to their impact on my understanding of both God and this present reality in which he has placed us. Bodies of works by authors would be a more representative category. The cumulative impact of people like Francis Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis (initially great, but currently shunned), John Calvin (Insitutes as well as Commentaries, etc.), Arthur W. Pink, and Arthur C. Custance has meant more to me than any five individual books I might select.
Also, the last five years, I have read many more magazines and internet-posted articles (and mere posts), which have ‘nuanced’ (is this not the obligatory mot de jour?) my thinking.
Anyways, more on books and authors in other posts.