Thursday, December 15, 2005

Books -- I like 'em

John did this, and John continued it (not the same John, obviously), so here's my take on a fairly easy meme-thingie: fifteen random things about me and books. Some of this will be repeat info for longtime readers, but hey, longtime family members often tell each other the same stories over and over again, right? There's a reason for that.

1. I constantly smell the ink of my books. My favorite book aroma is that of mass market paperbacks that were printed in the 1970s and before. If you own any of these, you'll know the aroma I mean.

2. Whenever I'm at the bookstore, I'll invariably pick up and momentarily thumb through copies of books I already own. And I'll do this knowingly.

3. For a very few books that have impacted me greatly, I'll strongly associate that book's typeface with that book. This happens very rarely, but I can't encounter the font that the original hardcover of Cosmos was set in without thinking of that book.

4. I don't remember what I encountered first: Star Wars or this book, but I encountered both within months of each other. Taken together, this was a mortal wound from which I've not recovered. Nor do I wish to.

5. When I was a kid, if I misbehaved to the extent that I deserved to have my TV priveleges revoked, my mother -- who knows a great deal about childrens' lit -- would always hand me whatever book she "just happened" to have handy, with the orders that I couldn't watch any TV until I read said book. More often than not, this was the first book in a series. In this way she introduced me to John Bellairs and Lloyd Alexander. (The only "dud" she ever made me read in this fashion was this, which she hadn't read either at the time of my punishment. I told her I hated it, and when she read it afterwards, she hated it too.)

6. One of my plans for reading in 2006 involves The Wife's collection of romance novels.

7. I find those "rich people's bookshelves", where every book is a single volume in a set so that the shelves are very neat and methodical and homogenous, very creepy. Give me a haphazard set of shelves with books double-stacked and with books lying on their side any day.

8. I've always liked reading about UFOs and the paranormal (even though I know that it's all total BS). I have a small collection of "conspiracy" oriented books whose contents range from delightfully loopy to downright creepy (two of these books actually have disclaimers warning readers not to believe readers if their authors are reported to have committed suicide or have been killed in "one-car accidents").

9. I love poetry collections, but I don't buy many of them since I don't like to own too many copies of the same poem. My favorites poetry collections are this one (and I love this one so damn much that I'd almost say that if you're going to own just one poetry collection, make this the one), this one (which I also own in an earlier edition from 1920 or thereabouts, which makes for significant difference in the contents), and this one (which I've owned since college). I also treasure my collection of selected poems by Tennyson, as well as my Library of America editions of the complete poetry of Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe. (Update: I'm also saving pennies for this one, which I've borrowed from the library six or seven times now.)

10. When I was studying music in high school and college, I amassed a small collection of full orchestral scores, including a number of Wagner operas, many of Berlioz's works, a few Beethoven symphonies, and the like. These scores are all stashed somewhere at my parents' house. Someday I need to get them, but first I need to conspire a way to acquire more space for bookshelves such that The Wife will not kill me.

11. I don't re-read favorite books in their entirety all that often, but I do "dip" into favorite books very regularly. I've read LOTR in its entirety five or six times (the most recent being during Little Quinn's initial hospitalization), Cosmos and Pale Blue Dot four times, GGK's Fionavar Tapestry three times (and I'm due to go through it again).

12. On the top shelf of the bookcase closest to my desk are my copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (of which I own two copies in hardcover), my Rand-McNally Atlas of the World, all of my copies of Guy Gavriel Kay's novels, and one of my two Complete Works of Shakespeare.

13. I've posted on my feelings about libraries before, so I'll just give the short version: I just don't get people who refuse to use libraries because they'd rather own every book they read, and I'm nearly hostile to people who believe that libraries are a now-obsolete luxury. And I'm an absolute whore for book-buying, and I have the pictures to prove it.

14. I love to read cookbooks, and the more color pictures of the food and food-commentary to go along with the recipes, the better. (In fact, I don't much like cookbooks that are nothing more than recipes without comment at all.)

15. It's been years since I was in a really good used book store. (Shout out to Buffalo readers: where's the best used bookstore around here?) I utterly adore, however, my local library's quadrennial used book sale. I've bought some real treasures there, including old editions of books that I've auctioned on eBay.

And, a bonus item, since the movie's out now: While I loved The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when I read it as a kid, I bounced off Prince Caspian four or five times, and to this day I have never finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I did recently buy a single volume TPB of the series, though.

OK, one more, since now I can't shut up: I have a bad habit of not taking books with me to places where I end up wishing for all the world that I had a book with me to stave off the boredom. The Wife likes to make fun of me in such situations: "Bet you wish you had a book."

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