1. How many books do I own?
Slipping into accounting mode I can see ten units each containing seven shelves with around 35 books per shelf. In addition, the A to P section of my paperback novel collection is in a large wooden trunk. So I guess the total is between 2,500 and 3,000. They are organised into several categories:
The Big One - Politics, History, Economics and similar.
Business - including accounting, law and management. Some are textbooks.
Transport - mainly aviation, but some on railways.
"Media" - photography, publishing and writing.
Scotland - Most of these would qualify for "The Big One" but are kept separately together with Scottish travel books and maps.
Finally, there is a section for magazines and also for publications from the IEA.
2. What’s the last book I bought?
Looking at my in-pile I think it was probably Scotland's Empire by Tom Devine although I have recently ordered Should Britain Leave the EU? from the IEA. I expect to be placing my annual order with Laissez Faire Books in the next few days.
3. What’s the last book I read?
Alistair Cooke's Letter from America. I am currently reading Circles Under the Clyde: A History of the Glasgow Underground and The Scottish Islands, a Christmas present from my wife. Mr Haswell-Smith's wonderful book should be read by anyone who loves Scotland, islands, sailing or maps.
4. What are the five books that mean most to me?
I find this most difficult but must acknowledge that my journey to libertarianism started (bizarrely) with The Affluent Society. Before reading this deeply flawed book I wasn't remotely interested in politics or economics. I went through a brief leftist phase - even becoming a Guardian reader - but rapidly concluded that something wasn't quite right, so to speak. I then came across a little book called Right Turn (presumably out of print), edited by Dr Rhodes Boyson. Thus ended the leftist phase. Then, quite accidentally, I discovered Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand. Here began my libertarian period. I devoured the works of Rand, met the chaps at the early version of the Libertarian Alliance and went on to read all of Mises and Rothbard. The latter's Man, Economy and State is surely one of the great books of all time. As for my fifth choice, well perhaps I'll mention the Inspector Rebus books by local author Ian Rankin, although I also love the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency stories by Alexander McCall Smith, another Edinburgh resident. Strangely enough, I've not read a word written by the third of our famous locals: J.K. Rowling.
I hereby nominate: