Usually I don’t need a reason to go shopping for books, but because today is my birthday it seemed appropriate to indulge myself a little today. I started my day with a game plan, figuring on hitting the University Bookstore for some new titles and Half-Price Books for some used bargains. A had a list of a dozen or so titles, but there were four in particular that I was expecting to find at the U Bookstore and I wasn’t disappointed. I walked out with Kluge by Gary Marcus, Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin, Please Don’t Remain Calm by Michael Kinsley and The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love Madness and Baseball by Nicholas Dawidoff. I also found a copy of Steven Pinker’s Words and Rules on the remainder table. Before heading over to Half-Price books I stopped at Aladdin Falafel on University Ave. and had a chicken gyro. After lunch I made a quick stop at Cellophane Square and picked up copies of Ayo - Joyful, Lizz Wright - The Orchard, Merle Haggard - The Bluegrass Sessions and I finally found a used copy of Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. At Half-Price I found a few more bargains, including the Norton Critical Editions of Dickens’ Hard Times and Hardy’s Tess. I spent the evening with a bottle of Goo Gone, removing the annoying Half-Price stickers.
I celebrated my birthday with Jen and Justin last night, since Jen started her work week tonight. They made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting for me, with Justin doing the majority of the decorating. He also enjoyed eating the cake and couldn’t stop moaning in delight as he chewed. Justin crashed fairly early yesterday, having not taken a nap, so he didn’t get to help me unwrap my gifts from Jen. I received a nice Woolrich rain jacket, in green of course. I also got a new timepiece to carry in my pocket. I’ve never worn a watch, but I’ve always had some type of clock, digital or otherwise in my pocket to depend on. She also got me a documentary I specifically requested called The Atheism Tapes. The two discs are comprised of six interviews that had been conducted by Jonathan Miller for his BBC documentary called A Brief History of Disbelief. Last night I watched the interviews with Colin McGinn, Steven Weinberg and Daniel C. Dennett. Miller prompts some great discussions from his subjects. This set makes a nice companion to The Four Horsemen DVD, which I bought earlier in the year.
The titles I’ve been bringing home from my book buying excursions are evidence of my current state of mind. It used to be a rare occasion when I read a nonfiction book, and then it was usually related to nature or Buddhism. Now the first sections I check out in bookstores are science, religion and politics. I’m craving knowledge and truth and have even started to watch home courses from the Great Teaching Company. I still love reading a great novel. Something that I can lose myself in for a few weeks, or a month. But lately I’ve been craving something more than I can glean from fiction, even in the best literature. I don’t want to fade into old age and senility without having made an honest effort to try and figure out this world I find myself in. Being a new parent with a young child, who is just about at the age when he will start to ask a lot of questions about the world around him, has also prompted me to try and educate myself a little further. It also just feels mentally invigorating to start to tackle some of the big questions in life, and to do that research involved in that type of quest.
So, I have more books for my overflowing shelves, but not any more time with which to read them with. Oh well. That’s the curse of every avid reader: There’s just never enough time for the multitude of books to be read. Tonight I could have been finishing Wuthering Heights, but instead I chose to watch They Live by Night, starring Farley Granger and directed by Nicholas Ray (Johnny Guitar and Rebel Without a Cause.) It was a great little noir film from 1948 based on the novel Thieves Like Us, by Edward Anerson. Robert Altman filmed a version of the novel in 1974, starring Keith Carradine and Shelly Duvall. They Live by Night is notable for being the directorial debut of Nicholas Ray, who biggest claim to fame was directing James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.