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What’s-on-Your-Desk Wednesday: A Bookish Meme

Thanks to Blacklin’s Reading Room by way of MariReads and the popularity of what some are calling [bookish] “memes“, I have been asked “What’s on Your Desk?”  The instructions were straightforward:

  1. Grab a camera and take a photo of your desk! Or anywhere you stack your books/TBR pile. And no tidying! (For those without digital cameras or blogs of your own, you can do this instead – or both if you are keen!)
  2. List at least 5 BOOKISH things on your desk (I’m thinking your TBR pile or books you haven’t shelved…)
  3. List at least 5 NON BOOK things. (I’m thinking some of some of the more unusual items on your desk/table?)
  4. Tag at least 5 people to do the same.
  5. Come back and leave your link, so we can come and visit your blog. Or add your answers in the comments. Please don’t feel pressured in any way at all. I just want everyone to have fun.

It sounded easy enough, but being – well, me – I considered (then struggled with) the concept of blog challenges as memes.  According to Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene:

“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.”

But some memeticists take Dawkins’ modest hypothesis a bit further – quite a bit further.  Susan Blackmore (The Meme Machine) defines the meme (or meme complex) as a theory of human culture in its own right.  She posits that free will is an illusion created by memes (think religion). Do memes then become part of one’s genetic DNA?  But I digress.

Whether or not free will is an illusion created by the viral spread of ideas, lists, tunes – or talking points, it can be argued that all transmission of knowledge is a matter of memetics. Hence, my response to the so-called bookish meme, What’s on Your Desk…

Five Bookish Things: Sony Reader, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (an exclusive signed edition from Powell’s), 3M colored tabs for marking pages (who doesn’t?!),  a lamp (the better to read in the dark with, my dear) and a copy of Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler (recently rescued from my daughter’s for-the-attic pile).

Five Nonbook Things:  Kleenex, iPhone, pamphlet about the Minnesota Grape Growers Association (the only remaining evidence that I attended the State Fair this year – the cookies are gone), renewal card for my Minnesota Public Radio membership (we do intend to renew) and political ads for several Minnesota gubernatorial candidates (watch for more about that – lots more).

And now (with apologies in advance where appropriate) —  J. Kaye’s Book Blog, One-Minute Book ReviewsTrish’s Reading Nook, Gretchen Lee Bourquin, Joy’s Blog, Nearly Nothing But Novels, Literate Housewife, — You’re it!

What’s on your desk?


5 thoughts on “What’s-on-Your-Desk Wednesday: A Bookish Meme

  1. I like the 3M colored tabs for marking pages. Why didn’t I think of that?

    Posted by blacklin | 9 September, 2009, 12:18 pm
  2. Interesting all of the information you provide about memes. I was utterly unfamiliar with the word before I started blogging and always took it to mean a type of game. Webster defines it as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Somehow I don’t think book bloggers use the term “meme” approrpiately. :) That’s neither here nor there…

    Anyway, I did this back in July–if you’re interested in seeing my very messy desk, pop over here: http://trishsbooks.blogspot.com/2009/07/whats-on-your-desk-aka-picture-overload.html

    I agree with Blacklin about the colored tabs–great idea!

    Posted by Trish | 10 September, 2009, 12:21 pm
  3. Thanks for the kind link. I’ll try to respond properly. I was going to say, “Too bad I don’t have a camera at work…,” but I remembered my phone! So, I just photographed my desk at work, which is a reading and writing desk, but only for nonfiction since I work in scientific research. However, your blog is currently on my large monitor. As you’ll see, much of what is on my desk requires archeological skill to locate and identify. Best wishes, Jim

    Posted by James | 10 September, 2009, 5:12 pm
  4. Hi! Just found this post, a little late, but I’m here now. I love your thoughts on memes, I’ve read all those books you’ve mentioned, but never really connected it to blog memes :) But I do, however, use coloured markers for pinpointing pages I want to refer to in my review.

    Thanks for taking part!


    Posted by Sassy Brit (Alternative-Read.com) | 21 October, 2009, 4:05 pm


  1. Pingback: Literate Housewife’s True Confessions : literatehousewife.com - 22 September, 2009

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