Archives

Book Lovers—Unite!!!

Thoughtful Reader…

I guess I could set up a poll to answer these questions, but why bother… It is so much simpler to just write up this latest post and let you chime in if you want to.

So, here’s the deal. I like to read. You have probably figured that out by now. I don’t own a Kindle or other e-reader, so that means my appetite must be sated by real books…real, bound, printed books. I think I mentioned previously that I counted over 150 actual titles read last year. So, I think you can start to see the enormity of this problem. Every year, usually in the fall, I gather up my books and start boxing up the ones that I feel obligated to part with. I have to do this, really I do. In moments of clarity I find myself looking in horror at the rising mound of printed paper stored in every available nook (yes, I know…), in my house. If a fire were to break out, the resulting conflagration would be awesome to behold.!!! So, not wishing to incur the wrath of the local fire gendarmes, I sadly (sometimes almost tearfully..) gather up my current stash and head out with all good intentions of parting company with the least treasured of my collection.

My first stop is at the local library where they see me coming, and when my shadow crosses their threshold there is never anyone there to help relieve me of my treasures. I think they hide from me. I really do. I usually manage to convince them that they need some of these epics of literature to add to their collection. Funny, they don’t seem to recognize most of these monumental works. Wonder why that is.?? After lightening my load (by two or three volumes…), I continue my trek to the local thrift store. They make up for the library…they love me here. I think it has something to do with my donating. No matter how hard I try, they always end up with my books and I end up with nothing.

Except sometimes…..and here we come to the gist of this story. After my latest sojurn to the seedy underworld of thrift stores and musty used books, I recouped some of my lost honor. Please don’t misunderstand. They still got my books…for free. But this time I got some books back.!!! Well, yes. I did have to pay for them. No, they weren’t new. Okay, I see where you are going with this. You are thinking, “I thought you were trying to get rid of some books…” And that would be a correct observation on your part. However, and this is important, books seem to have a life of their own…maybe a soul too. So when I came across a small collection in the midst of this shabby thrift store, it seemed imperative that I should save them. Save them from what.?? That is a good question. An ugly demise most probably. And almost assuredly each of them would suffer the ignominy of being separated from their siblings…sold one at a time to someone who couldn’t possibly treasure them as much as I do. So, squealing with delight (if it’s possible for a grown man to squeal with delight…or squeal with anything for that matter..), I grabbed them all up and saved them from who knows what….

So, what did I end up with?? What captured my enthusiasm?? Okay, I will tell you. There were two small collections or series’ of hard bound works. The first is a set of four by William Faulkner. Judging by the copyright dates, I will place them in the late 1950’s. Well taken care of. Pages are starting to yellow, but none torn that I can find. Red cloth bindings are solid. Faulkner’s name impressed into the front cover and gold filled. I have read two of the four….The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. The other two, Sanctuary and Light in August are now on my reading list.

The second series is a collection of fourteen books most of which would be classified as literature. There are a couple in the series that might seem to deviate from the “literature” standard but all are noteworthy. This series dates from the 1930’s. Pages are yellowing (some worse than others..) but blue cloth bindings are in good condition. Remarkably so, really. Most of this style book I have seen over the years exhibit fraying on the bindings and loose threads etc. These titles range from a collection of Ibsen’s plays, to Voltaire, to Bret Harte and George Elliot, to a book of the worlds great speeches and a translation of Tales From the Decameron.

*****
So, you be the judge. Worth saving..???

Be well…
Howard

Advertisements

Tomes, Quill Pens and Parchment…

AKA…What to do when it’s raining…Vol. 2

Thoughtful Reader…

I hasten to point out that the following paragraph is a remake of one in “What to do when it’s raining…Vol.1“…..with the blanks filled in to represent the ideas coursing along for this post (Vol.2)

In my recent analytical style of self-introspection (yes, I realize that “self-introspection” is redundant–I could have said “self-observation” or “self-evaluation”, but I just like the sound of “self-introspection,” so sue me…), I have discovered a possible cure for these blues, and blahs. Did you know that cooking feeds the soul? Did you know that ——-(Reading..?) allows us to escape the reality of our poor misbegotten lives? And ——-(Writing..??) Did you know that ——-(Writing..??) reinforces our memory? Which is a good thing as long as you are aware of this particular idiosyncrasy and welcome it. I mean, you know, repressed memories and all that… Anyway,  it’s true. It’s all true.

I often wonder how many memories are hiding, repressed, in the deepest reaches of my not so nimble mind. With apologies to Billy Joel, When I wore a younger man’s clothes I remembered everything. These days I am somewhat more refined and have lower expectations. I think that is what happens as you age. You get a little more haughty (refined..??) as you realize that there are fewer and fewer folks out there who can match your experience level. This level of refinement is often characterized by walking around with your chest out and your nose in the air just a little (of course it could be because my back is so da** stiff that I can’t move anymore). Then you think for a moment, and, coming back down to earth, realize, that the folks around you don’t really care anyway. They know you are getting older (and therefore senile..???) and they don’t really expect you to “produce” or “remember” like you did some years back. Hence the lowered expectations.

So, if no one else expects you to be on point or live out on the edge, why should you bother.?? Another rhetorical question, but for this one I have an answer. You should bother because it is good for you. Because it stretches the mind and the understanding. Because now, after living quite a while as an adult, you may finally have the resources to do something worthwhile with your life. And because you can still make a contribution and others may benefit from your understanding. Producers, contributions…..More on that another time…….

Of Tomes, Quill Pens and Parchment…

Reading….the best use of any available minutes not already allocated to other endeavors….and the second indoor thing that occupies me today. As a youngster I grabbed my fun and adventure where I could find it. That was usually in books. Readily available in libraries at no cost, they were the perfect source of adventure and mental stimulation for a boy with no money and no family life. There were stories of adventure in far off lands, and stories of travel that led to adventure. Train trips to danger filled destinations as depicted on the “Orient Express,” and safaris to the “Dark Continent” chasing wild beasts. The swashbuckling men of the French Foreign Legion were always good for an imaginative story, and of course there were the “Khyber Rifles” and other titles by Mundy as well as Zane Grey’s westerns and Mark Twain’s stories of middle America. Stories of heroes and villains and stories of fortunes and fortunes lost were plentiful too. To add variety there were many, many outdoor magazines and various encyclopedic tomes full of “how to” instruction sprinkled liberally throughout those early years.

Today, I read various genre. Historical fiction is a particular interest because the underlying tenets can be worth recalling. Some of the political savagery is also of interest, as well as some biographical works and historical treatises…particularly the U.S. founding period. Reading was, and is, a favored thing. I think I would dry up mentally and spiritually if forced to abandon it. And if you read some things other than fiction, you may find yourself contributing to the understanding of someone else. And that is worth doing.

Writing goes hand in hand with reading. Once captivated by the written word, there is an almost insatiable desire to produce something meaningful…a printed legacy to show others and to look upon with pride. I have been somewhat fortunate in my endeavors to produce acceptable narrative. I say acceptable because at various points one person or another has felt it was “good enough” to occupy some space in print. Now, today, I am here knocking on the door of this new medium. I have a lot to say. Some of it may provoke consternation among the élite and cause great soul-searching, hand-wringing, and gnashing of teeth among the masses. Gosh, I hope so.!! Will it be “good enough.??” Only time will tell….

“Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success”…………..Dale Carnegie

One thing is certain….I refuse to accept the loss of my remaining brain cells without a fight.

Be well…

Howard