Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Our Maximum Leader, in his meatspace manifestation, tagged Ol’ Robbo on FacePlant the other day with a literary meme.  Says my liege:

I was recently challenged….to post the covers of 7 books I love. These photos are to be without reviews, explanation, or other comments. Like [my challenger], I will post my covers in one go. Also, like [my challenger], I will break the rules in a number of ways. I am going to post 8 covers rather than 7.

He then invited me to play along.

Well, as I remarked in a post below, I really don’t bother with FacePlant much anymore, except to check out all the vacation, graduation, and college move-in pics posted by family and friends.  Also, to be honest, I wouldn’t even know how to post photos on FB in a way that wouldn’t take years to accomplish.

So I thought I would transplant the meme over here, where I have a better grasp of the technology and also a bit more room to express myself.  Although I may incur the Royal Displeasure and a one-way ticket to the Tower for doing so, I am also going to include some brief commentary along with my choices.

Finally, I would hasten to point out that these are not necessarily my eight favorite books (the instructions don’t call for that, and anyway I don’t think I could winnow down such a narrow list), or even necessarily my favorite books by these particular authors.  Instead, they are eight books that I have read over and over through the years and keep coming back to because I get that much more entertainment and insight from them at each visit.

Ready?  In no particular order, then:

France and England In North America, Volumes 1 & 2 by Francis Parkman.  Colonial history from the very beginning of French and British exploration (with a side of Spanish activity in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, most of it pretty bloody) up to the withdrawal of the French after their loss of the Seven Years’ War.

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse.  It and Right Ho, Jeeves rank, to me, as the very best of the Bertie and Jeeves stories.  Also, a pro tip about Plum:  His peak years ran from around 1933 through the 1940’s.  If you’re looking to jump in, start there.  The earlier schoolboy stuff is an acquired taste, and the later stuff tends to run to retreads.

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.  Even apart from his military achievements, I just like Old Sam.  So modest, and yet so determined.  One of the truly greatest contributions Samuel Clemens ever made to books was to persuade Grant to write his memoirs even as he was dying of throat cancer.  (Not only did said persuasion give us this book, it also provided for the financial comfort of Julia Grant after Sam’s passing.)

H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O’Brian. I’ve read the whole Aubrey/Maturin series many times, but this book (the third) is where I think POB really hit his stride.  (I enjoy all of the books following, up to and including The Wine-Dark Sea.  After that, it seems that POB started sickening of the whole biznay, as the later novels become much darker and more bitter – as well as more formulaic.  I rarely read past WDS anymore.)

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.  The third of the so-called Ransom Space Trilogy,  Lewis’s foray into science-fiction.  It seems most apropos these days, since it explores at great length (through the workings of the N.I.C.E.) the diabolical underpinnings of all exercises in totalitarianism, including those which claim to seek the Public Good.

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis.  I agree with those critics who argue that Portis is the most infuriatingly under-appreciated American author ever.  Portis wrote five novels altogether (including True Grit, which is unique in the canon because of its historickal setting, whereas the others take place in the 1950’s through 70’s). Each one is my favorite while I’m reading it, but I think this one has to top the lot when I stand away.

The Sword of Honor trilogy by Evelyn Waugh.  I will only say here – and there is so much more I could say -that I find the whole episode of Apthorpe and the “thunder-box” in Men At Arms, the first book, to be one of the funniest sequences I know of. “Biffed” indeed.  Also, I’ve always wanted to write a paper exploring the development of Waugh’s anti-heroes, from Paul Pennyfeather in his first novel through William Boot, poor old Tony Last, and culminating in Guy Crouchback in this series.

The Complete McAuslan by George MacDonald Fraser.  Semi-fictional humorous (and sometimes more serious) stories of GMF’s service as an officer in a Highland Regiment posted to North Africa just after WWII.  I like his smut-as-cover-to-indulge-Victorian-military-history Flashman Papers series very much too, of course, but I think these are actually better written.  (McAuslan is described as “the dirtiest soldier in the world” and a “Tartan Caliban”.)

So there you have it.

Comments are, of course, more than welcome.  Those of you with blogs of your own? Consider yourselves tagged.  (And yes, I will be checking!)

UPDATE:  Sorry, this post crashed about half-way through composition and I lost several direct linkies in the titles.  When I went back to try and edit them, WordPress went hinky on me.  Rather than lose the whole post, I just bolded them.  I reckon if you’re interested enough, you can always look up the titles for yourselves.