Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Book Mark

This post is about books and reading. I tried to get it finished in time to put it up last Tuesday, but my son was with me, which is a good thing, but switches my priorities around pretty quickly. ("Daddy, come shoot hoops with me in my room," "Daddy, let's go to the park.") I had quite a bit written, but I kept looking at it, thinking Blah. Boring. That's the problem though, the idea that books are boring. It's a misconception perpetuated by people, who think time is money, and value cars and jewels more than wisdom and intellect.  Books can take the reader to Mars, or ancient Egypt, or beside the steamy banks of the Mississippi back in the early 19th century. They can provide entry into a myriad of subjects from neuroscience to nanotechnology; from the decks of the whaleship Essex to the dusty wartime excesses in the Middle East. 

I work in a bookstore, and I've been a bookseller for almost twenty years. That's hard even for me to believe, since I started in the high tech industry back in the glory days of Texas Instruments, Sylvania, and Honeywell, all scattered along route 128 in Massachusetts. Until the greedy bastards of industry figured out how to ship all those high tech jobs to third world countries, and have those circuit boards assembled for pennies. Recommending books can be very rewarding, but not financially. I work in an independent bookstore, which appeals to the rebel in me. It's situated in a very liberal neighborhood, just north of the university, so there is not much call for right wing screeds.

The bookstore is a good fit, even though I didn't become a ravenous reader until my 20's. Growing up, I was more interested in filling sketchbooks and watching old horror movies. After returning home from the air force, I started my reading life with cheesy science fiction and Native American history. I keep a little notebook filled with a list of nearly every book I have read so far in this all-too-brief life of my own. It's amusing to look back and see various reading trends, such as the New Age/Self-Help phase. I was there when the New Age section first started to appear in bookstores. I've tried to heal my inner child and swear off codependency for ever. I've found my erroneous zones, and have realized that it's all small stuff. 

These days my reading tastes veer from religious history and neuroscience to gritty fiction and old classics.  I do have too many books. I admit that freely.  I fantasize about a minimalist decor, with just a few shelves of vital titles -- maybe a shelf or two of classics -- but all of my books are piled up along the walls of my office, giving one the impression that I'm a hoarder. It's not like the halls are lined with newspapers dating back to my birth. I stopped buying DVDs and CDs a while ago. It's just books. Books, books and more books.

These are just some of my books.

No comments: