Saturday, June 18, 2005

Books, Etc.

Andi at Andi's World sent me an email, warning me that I had been tagged for the ubiquitous book meme. Sure enough, Dymphna at Gates of Vienna stuck it on me.

I have been dreading this moment.

First, I have dreaded this because, if I chose to comply, I would be forced to reveal some details that I'd really rather not talk about. Secondly, because I would have a hard time picking just who should be the recipient of my own tagging largesse.

But, what the Hey! Why not?

Dymphna stated with an uncanny exactitude how I, my wife, and my two children are about reading. We do it. All of the time. Anywhere and everywhere. I was chuckling as I read Dymphna's response, and called my wife in to read also.

Read-a-holics cannot resist the printed word: It starts with cereal boxes at the breakfast table or newspapers abandoned in the restaurant booth by whomever ate there before you and continues into reading your high school English lit books the day you get them. This is not virtue. A therapist once posed the question: “so when did you discover that books were a neurotic escape?”

Motto: never leave home without a book. You never know when you might be trapped somewhere with nothing to read. Horrors.

A room without a bookcase is boring. Walking into a room with a bookcase is permission to look at someone’s soul.
My wife agreed wholeheartedly, especially with the Motto. She and I both read, for knowledge, edification, and most certainly as an escape mechanism. Same with our two children.

My wife related to me, once again, that as a child she would spend her infrequent 'allowance' on books, rather than the normal items purchased by other children. Take into account that she grew up as one of the younger children of a fairly large (6 children) family. A relatively poor farm family, where the children had to work in the fields to help make ends meet. Although her father was not a sharecropper (he owned the small parcel of land), the situation was similar. It was during her childhood that the transition was made from plowing with a mule, to using a tractor, and she was a teenager before they had access to indoor plumbing. There was little leisure, little cash, and educating children was a burden on the family. Thankfully, she escaped the looming future, and I attribute that to her constant drive to read.

My situation was different, in that my father was not a farmer, instead he was a carpenter, a cabinet maker, a park ranger, a boat-builder, and a fisherman, and as far as I can remember, we always had indoor plumbing. I, too, spent part of my allowance on reading materials, but mostly comic books (does that count?). One of the family rules was 'No reading at the dinner table'. There developed so much contention over that rule, that by the time my younger siblings (all nine of them) reached reading age, it had been chucked. A meal without reading materials was like a day without sunshine! I developed such an attraction to books that once, in the fourth grade, I stole a book from the school I attended. I can still remember that story! (This fact is one of the items I'd rather not reveal, but I think it's germane to the subject.)

Update: In order to illustrate how reading is viewed in my family, I decided to stick this in. We have one and only one decorative item in the room we ALL refer to as the reading room. Here it is:
bear_stool.jpgThis ceramic figurine is approximately 1 1/2 inches tall.
Another aspect that I don't really want to talk about, but will, is the intimidation factor. I have read of lot of responses to the book memes, and usually am left feeling somewhat inadequate by what I read. Kind of like a 10-year old kid with a pair of 10-power binoculars at an astronomy convention. You can follow the conversation, but... WOW!

And the third thing that I didn't want to mention is the financial wherewithal to buy all of the books I'd like to read. I have been unemployed since November, 2001. Household and living expenses have been cut to essentials only, with little disposable cash left over for purchase of reading materials. This may change in the future, but in the meantime I have to make do with what I can get. Preamble finished, let's get into the meme...

Total number of books owned, ever:
I have no idea. I retain books only as room allows, so most are sold, given away, traded, etc. I would guess that I have about 200 at the present.

Last book bought:
This one I know, it was Tom Clancy's Executive Orders. Or The Bear and The Dragon. One of those two.

Last book I read:
This one is easy, it's sitting right beside me... David Grinspoon's Lonely Planets. I borrowed it from my daughter.

Five Books that mean a lot to me:
Hmmm, this one is difficult. How do I evaluate the meaning of the books? First, I'd have to say the Bible, as it's indispensable. Other than that, I couldn't say. Most books I read for escapism value, to immerse myself in the story. For instance, I have read L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth completely through nine times. Does that mean it has a lot of value to me? Well, it certainly is good escapist literature. Same with Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor, although I've only read it through four times.

I could have done as Dymphna, and instead listed authors important to me, but would have been left with the same problem - which to select. Or genres - same problem. I like history, alternate history/universe, mystery, western, philosophy, hard science fiction (as opposed to fantasy), adventure, biographies, etc., equally.

Five books I've given away recently:
I don't remember.

Who do I tag:
I want to get people that have not been previously tagged, if possible. Spread the wealth, so to speak. Then this meme can die an ignominious death, or spread like wildfire.... only time will tell.

First will be Mandelinople. I like his views, and even attended his alma mater, a little before his time.
Next will be Grim's Hall., just because.
Then, Pudgy Puppy, for foolishly listing absolutely nothing under Currently Reading: category.
And fourth will be Choose Honor, because Mr. Bray, having failed to win the post he was after, needs something to keep him occupied for a bit.
And last but not least will be B.L. Ochman at Whats Next?, because I find her blog tremendously interesting (not that the others aren't!).

So, that's it. To those I've tagged, just answer the five questions, and pass along to five more bloggers. Sort of like a pyramid scheme!

Update: I hate spell checkers that give the go-ahead on words I do not mean to use. I need a spell checker that's smarter than I am!