The One Book Meme. My Response.

The One Book Meme. My Response.

I keep seeing these posts where memes get passed around, where one person “tags” another as an inducement to answer a list of questions. One is presumably supposed to answer the questions, post the response, and tag a handful of others.

I had been secretly glad that I’d never been tagged. And I also wondered, just how are you supposed to find out you’re on the hook?

Well. Never mind. There I was ego-surfing my blog, checking out the incoming referrers, wondering who’s linked to me lately, and there I find that Travis Johnson, fellow PneumaBlogger, has done gone and tagged me with the One Book meme.

An enterprising Ben Fernström, with way too much time on his hands, tracked down the beginnings of the One Book meme, wrote an entertaining narrative, and positioned himself as belonging to the 14th generation of this meme’s recipients.

Thus, ultimately, we have Benjamin Myers to blame for this post. I’m the 18th generation of this particular meme, but by a different route (see the note at the end).

:: sigh ::

Well, at least I’m one of the cool kids now!

So, here goes:

  • One book that changed your life:

    Watership Down, by Richard Adams.

    Yes. It’s a book about furry rodents. Yes, the rabbits talk. There is prophecy, a quest for home, games, fights, puzzles and more. All in only 400+ pages. This book, though a children’s story in many respects, changed my life because it initiated me into the realm of addicted reading. I’d already read a lot as a child, sneaking books into my bedroom to read at night, but this was the first book I ever bought with saved-up lunch money from the Scholastic Books program at school. I was in the sixth grade.

    I still remember receiving it that day in class. It was a monster of a book — easily 20 times thicker than anything else my peers had bought. And I also still remember the first things most of my friends would say upon seeing it: “What? There’s no pictures!”

    First thing I did that day was go down to the school library and ask the librarian to put a protective cover on it for me. Completing that book felt like an initiation. After 400 pages, I truly felt like a reader, and I felt like I had truly entered into another realm and come out changed. I wasn’t just being entertained, I was experiencing a new reality.

    And for that I will ever be grateful.

  • One book that you’ve read more than once:

    Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.

    Card is a Mormon writer who successfully integrates his faith with his writing without ever making the work feel preachy, doctrinal, or “religious.” He is, in many respects, my writing hero, and if I ever try my hand at fiction, I hope to follow in his footsteps.

    I remember picking up this book off the 7-11 book rack on my way home from school one day, and buying it on impulse because I liked the cover. The fact that the cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story never occurred to me until much later. By then it was too late.

    Card’s ability to write a character-driven plot-line that feels like a plot-driven thriller is amazing, and forever changed my view on what good fiction is all about. His books are eminently re-readable, and the child-heroes in his story inspired me as a child and still do today.

  • One book that you’d want on a desert island:

    Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt (audiobook).

    Again, a book I’ve never read, but this time I listened to it. And let me tell you, even if you didn’t like the movie, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this book. It’s read by the author, Frank McCourt, and there’s just something about his Irish lilt reading his memoir that is so evocative, that you totally forget it’s a grown man telling stories about his childhood. McCourt is such a masterful storyteller that he transports you to his childhood. And his story is so touching, that, if you listen just right, even hardened men will cry.

    “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

  • One book that you wish had been written:

    “Psych! Fooled ya!” (Or, I only meant to illustrate the beauty of Heaven by talking about this place called Hell, which doesn’t really exist. You all should just lighten up.), by Jesus.

    C.S. Lewis has said that if there was any one doctrine he would rewrite in Scripture, it would be the doctrine of Hell, but he cannot, because the scriptures are plain. A debate has been raging in my post on Carlton Pearson’s universalism heresy about this issue, and it seems to be as unending as the worm that dies not. Yet, I suspect no amount of arguing is ever going to change Jesus’ actual words.

  • One book you wish had never been written:

    The Bible.

    For me, this is the only possible candidate for this question. The only way the Bible could never have been written is if we didn’t need God to communicate his will through intermediaries — if, instead, he still walked with Man in the Garden, and talked with us face-to-face. Instead, Adam and Even sinned, and we feel from natural grace. I’m glad, though, he has revealed himself to us, and that we do have the Bible.

    But it would definitely be a better world had it never been needed.

  • One book you are currently reading:

    On Writing Well, by William K. Zinsser.

    This is, apparently, a must-read for anybody who wants to write well, especially non-fiction. Zinsser is all about paring down writing so that all unnecessary, weak, irrelevant words and phrases are cut from your prose. That doesn’t mean writing has to be curt. Just that every word and phrase must serve a useful purpose.

    A lesson I could learn.

  • One book you’ve been meaning to read:

    The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God, by Dallas Willard.

    Ever since I wrote a book summary for on Willard’s Renovation of the Heart, I’ve been a huge fan. I have a couple other books of his on my shelf now, waiting to be read, and this is the first on my list. Willard is brilliant, though a bit meandering in his prose. But every paragraph is worth savoring, and every paragraph promises riches more to be learned and to be changed by. He’s not always easy to read or absorb, but it’s well worth the time to try.

There, that’s it! And now … drum-roll please … I hereby nominate five others. You’re all on the hook to answer the One Book meme, and to nominate five others. The meme has already reached ’round the globe. Will you send it even further? (Yeah, like that’s possible. What are you gonna do now, tag Paul the Apostle?)


If you’re looking for something interesting to read, Kevin Stilley over at RighteousJudgment, has done some tedious research for you and has distilled the responses of 275 recipients to come up with the top recommended books for your reading pleasure. Head on over and stand in awe of his gold-digging tendencies:

Tales from the Script — The Book Meme Revisited

If you want even more, see his compilation of the books that never got written, but should have:

Publisher’s Take Note ! Here are the books we want…

Finally, to trace the genealogy of this particular post, one simply needs to follow the links back in time to their source. If you’d like to see how we got all the way over here from Ben Myers’ blog, follow the links below. The most recent link in this chain is at the top, and the genesis is at the bottom. Enjoy!

[tags]BlogRodent, One-Book-Meme, One-Book, meme, internet-meme, I-got-tagged, books, fiction, non-fiction, review, Religion, Christianity[/tags]

11 thoughts on “The One Book Meme. My Response.

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  5. Ben

    Hi, thanks for the link and your kind words. I DID spend a decent amount of time writing the thing, like a day or so, on & off, but I actually wasn’t planning on it. It just evolved and nothing much else was happening. Alright, I should have looked after my kids. I’m sorry.

    Nice finding this site too, just by you linking me in. The blogging universe is fascinating and weird, and of course it’s too big already to grasp. We all keep linking left and right, posting our findings, information travels in circles and it might even feel a bit meaningless sometimes. Too much randomness maybe. We never know if we have found what we need to know. I’m thinking that next up is learning to live here wisely (in the blogosphere). I’m sure God has some cool pointers on the subject.


  6. Marc V

    God has cool pointers on living wisely in the blogosphere? Read softly and carry a big stick??

    Thanks SO MUCH for tagging me. It has been more of a burden for me to read books, as the free time that I typically have is at night. After a few pages my mind wanders and I start doing the head nod and bob, particularly if I’m ensconced in the command center (Lazy Boy + remote control + cold drink). That, and my vision is starting to go too.

    Yes, these sound like excuses but I’ll try to see what I can come up with per the meme.

  7. jim

    Just checked the link on my post and it works! How that notifies you, though, is beyond me, Rich. At any rate, the meme has been addressed even if it dies on my particular doorstep. I’ve often wondered: if these sort of chains continue to grow, at what point do they smother everything else out there? Happy reading, my friend…..

  8. Pingback: Spudlets » One Book Meme - Here goes …

  9. Carole Turner

    “The Far Side Gallery” sits in our bathroom! I have been a fan of the Far Side since it’s 80’s hay-day.

    I put Angela’s Ashes down as both the cryer and the laugher cuz’ I did both many times in that book.

    I don’t do “tags” but this one is my heart, I have a book club @ HPC so Dan knew I’d jump on it. I never heard it called a “Meme” though, I need help me with that one?

  10. dan ohlerking

    weird to see such a geneology of taggings. feels pretty cool to be included, however.

    i grew up an a/g missionary kid so it’s pretty cool too to see all the a/g action on the blogs here.

    anyway — thanks for the link love, and you can be sure i’ll be back to read more in the future. you’ll be in my netvibes list in just a couple minutes.


  11. Pingback: Geneology of My “One Book Meme” « travis johnson

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