What books would make up the library of the Good Ship Metafilter? August 4, 2014 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Makes me wonder what 400 volumes the library of the USS Metafilter would have on it's Alpha Centauri colonization mission.

This comment by fairmettle got me to thinking: what would said library contain? On top of that, assuming that there's some interest here, what, if anything, do we want to do about it?

I don't even know what I'm really getting at here... let alone if this is even my place to bring it up, but I wouldn't mind seeing something between a running list of books that mefites would like to see included on said hypothetical shelf to a flurry of donations of those selfsame books to local libraries in honor of the Mefi Library to a hypothetical (or physical!) Mefi library time capsule in Jessamyn's backyard* to a kindle lending library (or some other repository or book share/swap) or any of a million other things I'm sure folks smarter than me might come up with.

Or maybe it's just late and I'm amped up because the baby is asleep and I actually had a spare moment to compose something whimsical and idealistic like this post. Probably that.

*I have no rights or claim to be burying things in any mefite's backyard except my own, and little good that would do as I'm in a rental...
posted by RolandOfEld to MetaFilter-Related at 8:05 PM (102 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

I figure it's a copy of Infinite Jest, a copy of House of Leaves, and 398 different books about conflict resolution to help deal with the ensuing horrible arguments about whether either is the best or worst book ever.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 PM on August 4, 2014 [48 favorites]


Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower for its profound scope of opinions on forgiveness, what it is, when to extend it and when not to.

The Moosewood Daily Special, because apparently I've recommended it enough that a few Mefites have said "you know, I keep seeing you recommend that and you've finally sold me, I'm placing the order."

The Lord Of The Rings, because a) it got me through 9/11 and b) would you really expect a bunch of nerds to go into space without it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Gift of Fear, all the Culture Novels. JScalzi's complete canon and a Dykes to Watch Out for Anthology.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:20 PM on August 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


The library would be digitized linked copies of everything mentioned in FPPs. Put on some ROM unit on steroids to protect it from interstellar space. On the face, an image of a naked human at a computer typing tl;dr
posted by Ironmouth at 8:21 PM on August 4, 2014


Multiple formats of "Where there is no doctor."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:22 PM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


good night dune
posted by elizardbits at 8:37 PM on August 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


Atlas Shrugged, of course.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 PM on August 4, 2014


I figure it's a copy of Infinite Jest, a copy of House of Leaves, and 398 different books about conflict resolution to help deal with the ensuing horrible arguments about whether either is the best or worst book ever.

Surely not inviting Decani would have the same effect?

Also Cold Lurkey is being a bit harsh on cstross imo.
posted by Pink Frost at 8:52 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Progressive political works -- not just The Gift of Fear, but hard-knocks economic stuff like Nickel and Dimed and A People's History of the United States. Maybe Piketty's Capital, if there's no waiting period to make The Canon.

Also, lots of SF/F, especially short-form. Stross and Scalzi's best stories, numerous Discworld and Culture novels, Italo Calvino, Game of Thrones, Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others. The number of people trying to track down Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" has become an AskMe cliché.

But why limit to traditional print books? Why not throw in Hyperbole and a Half, TIME FOR SOME STORIES, and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Or further afield, Homestuck and TVTropes and the Codex Seraphinianus.

See also: What books are in the "MeFi Canon"? (2010) and MeFi Labs' most-mentioned Amazon items of 2013.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:56 PM on August 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


The novella that came with Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, obviously.
posted by michaelh at 8:58 PM on August 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I go back to my discovery in a school library when I had to do a book review on a specifically NON-fiction book: How to Lie With Statistics, chosen because it was 144 pages with a couple dozen illustrations... an easy read, but one that opened my mind to unimaginable levels of cynicism.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:04 PM on August 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


A bound, laminated compilation of every single can I eat this? AskMe, for when we awake from suspended animation and discover the refrigerator is on the fritz.

399 other books.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:19 PM on August 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


About 20 of those books would be 'holy books' from various religions. Can't have a new civilization without some good old religious arguments/wars/enlightenment.

A hardcopy of wikipedia sounds like fun. OED is crucial to any physical library (the full thing in many volumes).

A couple of graphic novels as well.
posted by el io at 10:13 PM on August 4, 2014


The top 400 books from those 'famous books people start but never finish' lists. Could be a valuable experiment to see if any can actually finish them when faced with gibbering boredom.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:21 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


CATCH-22
posted by philip-random at 10:32 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think they would have to be foundational books in the different categories, so while I love love love the Discworld books, they likely would have to give over to something like.. the Hitchhikers Guide because it was a necessary precursor (IMO). And books that are positive in a realistic way and carry the best of our species should be prioritized (but not exclusive) not to be polyanna about it, but in order to hopefully provide a foundation of how to treat each other well. Religious texts minimized, just because we are good at creating those already and not a slight on current religion. Poetry and practical skills, I love Sci Fi and fantasy but think only a handful of those should make the cut (maybe we could finally get rid of ender's game!!).
posted by edgeways at 10:42 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


400? I'm not going.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:02 PM on August 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


A bound, laminated compilation of every single can I eat this? AskMe, for when we awake from suspended animation and discover the refrigerator is on the fritz.

I'd say we'd need just one, really.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:57 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


copies of David Burn's "Feeling Good"
posted by hellojed at 12:03 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Plato's Republic
Aristotle's Ethics
Descartes' Meditations
Hume's Treatise
Russell's Problems of Philosophy
posted by persona au gratin at 12:57 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita
Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities
The Debbie Button 'I can eat that!' Cookbook
posted by Sebmojo at 1:51 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Starting Strength, bro
posted by rollick at 2:06 AM on August 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds trilogy, which I always bring up but as far as I know no one ever reads.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:10 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dave Barry Turns 40
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:23 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Home Comforts.
posted by box at 3:31 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


The complete works of Jorge Luis Borges. Or just take the Library of Babel.
posted by Segundus at 4:36 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


How about a cookbook?
posted by phunniemee at 4:50 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


400? I am not sure MetaFilter could agree on the top 400 books of cat photos to bring, much less anything with significant words.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:53 AM on August 5, 2014


These are all utterly terrible book choices and simply highlight how uneducated and dumb everyone here is. These are my suggestions:

Finnigans Wake
Left Behind: Apollyon
Cloud Atlas
Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin
Fight Club
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
posted by zoo at 5:08 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The library would be digitized linked copies of everything mentioned in FPPs. Put on some ROM unit on steroids to protect it from interstellar space.

What OS would the system be running?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is this where I link to the lighthouse traveling library? I think it is. I am also in a rental so no backyard book burying for me, but I find that there is a really short list of books that I want to keep around for re-reading. The older I get it seems the less I want to re-read because I feel the impending weight of all the books I haven't read yet.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:40 AM on August 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


If we're bringing Stross and Scalzi with us in the ship, we don't have to bring their books ... we can just put them in isopods and demand they provide us with new stories or NO SPOO FOR YOU.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:42 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


400? Just 400?!? In that case, I'm with cjorgensen: I'm not going. I live with probably ten times that in hard copies, plus maybe another thousand e-books.... a mere 400 ain't gonna cut it!

But if you insist: lots of how-to stuff --- how to grow food, how to process that food, and of course cookbooks; how to make tools and refine metals, and from there how to build everything from more complex machines to shelter; how to make clothing and other protective gear; how to maintain computers and communications equipment, unless you want to revert to an electronics-free world; how to find and refine and produce medicines, how to heal everything from simple scratches to major injuries.
posted by easily confused at 5:43 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


A complete run of the Bantam Choose Your Own Adventure books and an old J. Peterman catalog.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:53 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Lighthouse Traveling Library is awesome; I'd never heard of that. If all of MeFi were going, we'd generate our own writers, especially light fiction and memoir. And blogs. So I'd take Great Books, Modern Library's recommendations (the Board's List), Harvard Classics, 'best books. The how-to and textbooks (medicine, surgery, engineering, math, psychology, anthropology, etc.) should be a separate list, otherwise, they'd likely take the complete 400. The Time-Life reading Program is quite good. Sadly, mine were lost in the great infloodination. Some personal favorites - the Hobbit & Lord of the Rings, Golden Notebook, John Brunner, Margaret Drabble, Laurie Colwin, E.B. White, Calvin Trillin, TH White's Once & Future King. Probably some biographies and histories of oppressed groups - women, native peoples, Afrian-Americans, and their struggles for equality. And a copy of Rise Up Singing and a Beatles Songbook.
posted by theora55 at 6:29 AM on August 5, 2014


And i didn't even start on kids' books.
posted by theora55 at 6:30 AM on August 5, 2014


Is this where I link to the lighthouse traveling library?

*stares*

*quietly pulls up ebay and begins to type a search*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on August 5, 2014


after posting 2 comments, I go to email, where Powell's has 25 books to read before you die. Looks good, too. Yeah, I should get off the computer and go read.
posted by theora55 at 6:37 AM on August 5, 2014


hey guys just here to make sure someone has already advocated Man's Search for Meaning...

oh come on
posted by psoas at 6:52 AM on August 5, 2014


How about a cookbook?

No this one.
posted by griphus at 6:52 AM on August 5, 2014


Every color of Future Shock?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:04 AM on August 5, 2014


Pioneering for Dummies
posted by Cranberry at 7:06 AM on August 5, 2014


The OED.

Does each volume count as a book?
posted by OmieWise at 7:08 AM on August 5, 2014


What Color Is Your Parachute? and Dr. David Burns' Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy for sure.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:16 AM on August 5, 2014


The OED.

Does each volume count as a book?


If it does, just get the two volume photoreduced version. Best $40 I ever spent.
posted by Jahaza at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


we can just put them in isopods and demand they provide us with new stories or NO SPOO FOR YOU

I think it would end badly for us in some unexpected but entertaining way.
posted by Segundus at 7:50 AM on August 5, 2014


Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion"
Al Franken's "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"
Barack Obama: "Dreams From My Father"
Barack Obama: "The Audacity of Hope"
Barack Obama: "Of Thee I Sing"
David Brock: "Blinded By The Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative"
Richard Kim: "Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare"
posted by DWRoelands at 7:56 AM on August 5, 2014


This.
posted by languagehat at 7:57 AM on August 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


a copy of my ebook drawing wangs with klang
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


we can just put them in isopods and demand they provide us with new stories or NO SPOO FOR YOU

You don't mean those horrendous plushie isopods do you? Because if so I will have to decline to voyage on Starship Metafilter. *shudders*
posted by winna at 8:17 AM on August 5, 2014


Why is everybody's space mission so serious? Space is fun, aside from vacuum-death and ye old colonization blues. What we really need is the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes.
posted by barchan at 8:19 AM on August 5, 2014


Dave. Barry. Turns. 40.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:36 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


We would certainly need at least 10 books that people love to hate. The Twilight series, for example, but if we can't get all 4 full length books in there, then just Breaking Dawn. The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy - which would be the worst if we can't get all 3 in one book? Some Malcolm Gladwell, a Cory Doctorow collection and that is only nine.
posted by soelo at 8:38 AM on August 5, 2014


The worst book of all time remains to be Piers Anthony's Firefly, but it's not funny-bad. It's "forever unclean" bad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2014


We can't possibly go on a generation ship without bringing along Starglass and Starbreak, a two-book sequence about a generation ship by mefi's own PhoBWanKenobi.

How else would we prevent the hubris of our leaders from causing our downfall?
posted by ocherdraco at 8:43 AM on August 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition
The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
The Art of Fermentation

It's not like we can live on texts alone.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:15 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


USS Metafilter

USS? Please. Totally a GSV [Eccentric].
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


We'd definitely want a copy of When Things Fall Apart, as they surely would.
posted by drlith at 9:38 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


What Color is Your Parachute has been replaced by What Color is Your Crash Helmet for reasons that should be obvious.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:51 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Great Books of the Western World, obviously
posted by mrbigmuscles at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2014


Jane Pilgrim's Blackberry Farm books, since I loved them as a kid and developed an abiding love for sparrows thanks to this book.
posted by arcticseal at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2014


One (1) copy of the Hardbound Collected Works of Metafilter
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:24 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am sad to see no non-Western suggestions so far.

How about these three classical novels of Chinese literature, which any educated person from the Chinese cultural sphere is expected to have read:
Journey to the West
Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Water Margin
posted by needled at 10:30 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


With the technology available, and given the generally technophile nature of Mefites, I would expect we are each bringing our own 400 ebook (DRM free) library aboard the GSV (Eccentric) MetaFilter (All This, and a Plate of Beans).

The real question is how to best optimize everyone's personal library so that we increase diversity of titles and minimize duplication - while ensuring that their are optimal numbers of popular titles available for lending. Once we've solved that problem, we'll have to figure out which 400 movies and TV shows we are bringing. And then perhaps the 400 video or board games...

But a couple of my choices for titles:

Lord of the Flies
Battle Royale


(no, I'm not expecting life on the ship to devolve into some kinda bizarre dystopia where we hunt each other for sport - why do you ask?)
posted by nubs at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, be sure to bring two pairs of reading glasses, you know, just in case
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 11:09 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Zero fiction, zero philosophy, zero history, only technical manuals and information on things like human anatomy, nutrition, fundamentals of physics, electronics, chemistry, and so on. Plus a boatload on assorted crafts and (this is key) several compilations of essays on the nature of writing, one of which must contain an explanation of Oblique Strategies.
posted by aramaic at 11:29 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Surely the complete collected works of Calvin and Hobbes would make it aboard.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:43 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm bringing Ulysses so that I can regale you all with my spoken word interpretation of the comedy stylings of the Cyclops episode.

Oh, you'll thank me when we're several light-years from home, believe me.
posted by scody at 12:05 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:21 PM on August 5, 2014


I recently came across Ben Marcus' syllabus for his course Technologies of Heartbreak, and I'd say it's worth a cool dozen.
posted by naju at 12:45 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a long flight, so How To Serve Man is a must.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Other MeFite opinions on a foundational library are here.

P.S. Congratulations on the baby, RolandOfEld!
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:02 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Hitchhiker's Guide, The Magic Mountain, Madame Bovary.
posted by dmh at 1:13 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


How to Make Friends and Influence People.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:38 PM on August 5, 2014


books about conflict resolution to help deal with the ensuing horrible arguments

Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most

Taking The War Out Of Our Words
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:04 PM on August 5, 2014


I'm fond of Passing Time in the Loo. Which I imagine people would be doing a lot of, because, boredom.

Then we could debate sitting or standing to wipe.

Maybe a cookbook, Bean by Bean sounds appropriate.

Then we could also debate sitting or standing to wipe.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:48 PM on August 5, 2014


all the Dune books
yes even Brian's books
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:20 PM on August 5, 2014


Erma Bombeck's timeless classic "The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank".
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:21 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a long flight, so How To Serve Man is a must.

Surely we'd get the special version How to Serve Matt.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Based on the frequency of recommendation in AskMe and topicality, I'd guess that Mary Roach's Packing for Mars would make the cut (though I'm not sure we would need a reminder that space smells like stale aluminum and recycled burps).

I'd submit How to Cook Everything and Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking. Maybe The Flavor Bible if we need a creative pairing for our dehydrated lamb vindaloo.

And if you don't bring some Calvino or Marquez, I may just stick my head in the airlock. Sorry.
posted by Turkey Glue at 4:29 PM on August 5, 2014


Lord of the Rings.

You know, to make them homesick as hell for fresh air and sunlight.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:26 PM on August 5, 2014


Valley of the Dolls.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:43 PM on August 5, 2014


A Confederacy of Dunces, which will help us remember why we left.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:41 PM on August 5, 2014


Ladies Man by Richard Price. and some joke books.
posted by jonmc at 7:08 PM on August 5, 2014


Nothing by me? Maybe "On Certainty" which us the best thing I wrote?
posted by wittgenstein at 7:33 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Toekneesan: "The Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition"

Does that one still feature possum? If not we'll need an older book.
posted by Mitheral at 8:26 PM on August 5, 2014


Actually, I'm pretty sure we'll only need one book- the official Golgafrincham Telephone Sanitization Handbook, Ark B Edition.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:40 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


We would certainly need at least 10 books that people love to hate. The Twilight series, for example, but if we can't get all 4 full length books in there, then just Breaking Dawn. The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy - which would be the worst if we can't get all 3 in one book? Some Malcolm Gladwell, a Cory Doctorow collection and that is only nine.

Why are you trying to destroy the colony?
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:11 AM on August 6, 2014


Space Needs Teenagers
posted by maryr at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2014


Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2014


Previously
posted by modernnomad at 11:49 AM on August 6, 2014


When Things Fall Apart, for sure. Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything. I'd also like Love in the Time of Cholera, please.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 2:56 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Charles Stross' full-length A Colder War, which my own predilections assure me he is writing as we speak.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:23 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, do you think we could get a complete set of Garfields for toilet reading purposes?
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:14 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


In case we run out of tp?
I may have to insist on the cheap paper edition
posted by edgeways at 11:20 PM on August 6, 2014


Daring Book for Girls!!!
posted by pearlybob at 8:20 AM on August 7, 2014


What, no porn or at least sex manuals? It's gonna be a long trip, ya'll.

I would also want books on how to learn the most complex types of origami, so I can pass the time making tiny paper sculptures.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 PM on August 7, 2014


What, no porn or at least sex manuals? It's gonna be a long trip, ya'll.

Personally, I'm more in favour of creating our own.
posted by nubs at 9:08 AM on August 8, 2014


What, no porn or at least sex manuals?

We are a group of people who are discussing the use of fruit during fellatio and you think we need sex manuals?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Voynich Manuscript
posted by Renoroc at 8:10 PM on August 8, 2014


Personally, I'm more in favour of creating our own.

Have you ever read this website? That is a fucking dangerous minefield if there was ever one.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:13 PM on August 10, 2014


That is a fucking dangerous minefield

Hey, no kink shaming! Minefields aren't my thing, but I'm not going to judge anyone.
posted by nubs at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2014


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