August 07, 2008

Sittin' up with the dead

I have met and know people that have no books. When you are in their homes, something just feels wrong. It's like being in someones home that you can see all the baseboards all the way around the rooms, too neat. Indeed, I was very uncomfortable when we moved in here and couldn't figure out why until a couple of weeks later when I took on the daunting task of unpacking the books... When I was finished I began to relax at last. I realized then it was because I could see the adventures I've gone on with my friends all around me. I have a few books that are worth some money, but I am no collector by any means. I watched a book in the eighth grade for months, it laid on a shelf in one of my classes and no one claimed it. I picked it up one day and looked at the cover, interview with the vampire.. I had never heard of it, so I read it.. It was OK, and I kept it. Years later I was in c.dickens and had it appraised, they offered me three hundred for it, I still have it... I cherish a small bible that crossed the ocean in a ship with my great uncle on his way to fight in d-day, it's held together with a strap of material he ripped off a bunk he slept in. I got an early edition of a Christmas carol as a gift one year and have been offered a bit for it, but no, it was given to me by a very dear relative. But as I said, I am no collector, I am actually brutal on my books. I dog ear the pages, break the backs, and inevitably drip crap all over the pages. I like a well worn book that falls open to the page you are reading and stays still, no fussing with flipping around for me.
I tend to stay away from books about religion. I would rather read whatever holy text I'm interested in and make up my mind from there. Be it the bible, Koran, book of Mormon, etc. I would rather read the actual words in question and ponder on them myself than to read someone else's opinion of what they say, however learned the author is supposed to be. Same goes for "philosophical meanderings".. we all think, so we can all ponder things like the meaning of life, and I don't care if I use the "correct" words to label the type of argument I'm making, I know what I mean.... Although I still like to sneak a few in now and then to see whats what.
I can't imagine having grown up not knowing about all of encyclopedia browns cases, or the great brain's cons & capers. What would life be like not having traveled muddy banks with tom and huck? Should I even mention where life would stand without the revered words of Master Tolkien floating around in my head... I have no idea how many vampires and zombies I've helped slaughter over the years. I've mapped the country with adventurers, fought on frontiers in the american west, china, japan, europe, australia, deserts, oceans, and in space. Escaping from a french prison to lead a secret life while followed by a tyrannical inspector was interesting. Traveling along with navy seals, cia agents, and indeed agents from all the alphabet organizations was amazing and informative. Diaries of people who lived hundreds of years ago is a particular favorite, as are fantastical speculations about our own future. Fantasy, pulp, science fiction, erotica, historical, pure brain candy, I love it all.
Every flat surface in our home is covered in books, a few have special places where they must always be returned, but most land where they will. Behind my favorite chair, on top of an old trunk there is a pile larger than my four year old. Next to my bed there is a stack, two wide, that reaches from the floor to level off with the night table, my current read is always found on top of this particular stack. Right now I'm helping andy track down his partner who has been turned by a vampire, his wife and daughters have been slaughtered and he has been framed for the crime... He escaped the assassin sent by his fbi supervisor to take him out and is seeking help from a professor that is trying to study the cells that cause the disease of vampirism. If you have seen the jason borne movies, you would not recognize the stories at all if you read them first... And by the way, communion will scare the hell out of you, take my word on it, you will spend days paying particularly close attention to your peripheral vision.
My fourteen year old is following the same route, albeit his tastes fall toward japanese graphic novels for the most part. We called them comic books in my youth, they just weren't as thick as they are now. My wife just plain reads too damn fast, she has a network of people she swaps books with and puts away three to every one I make it through. I'm sure that's because I do all of my reading before I go to sleep. I have found lately that I have to keep moving the books farther away every few months, yes I know, go get them checked.. I should, but I hate eye doctors... Our four year old refuses to even consider going to bed without checking into what the berenstien bears, or the sharks around his bed are doing... Sometimes you don't feel like it, but you have to think, until he learns to read for himself, you are his only conduit to a world of excitement that exists just for him, so we do it anyway...
My first tolkiens will be his I think, My fourteen year old will find the classics and the closely guarded in his hands...
I have heard everything from "i can't imagine wasting my time sitting on a couch reading" to "i ain't got no interest in that shit, i'd rather be out doing than reading" I would rather sit up and talk with the dead in an old diary than watch commercial tv or stand around talking about man made items that people want or can tweak to do better any day. What the slack jawed seem not to realize is that reading causes you to seek more, and in seeking more you find more, and in the finding comes the passion to increase your knowledge and experience.. And passion leads to a life more fulfilling than any amount of "hell yeah" beer swilling, car racing or parking lot standing can even imagine touching. Trust me, I've done both and there is no comparison...


HeartofGoldPlate said...

I'm always seeing weird shit in my peripheral vision... I'm not reading that book. :[

I'd probably start thinking I'm seeing christopher walken... and that's just freaky, man.

Anonymous said...

Books are great!!!They can take you anywhere from going on a cruise to flying with a vampire.
Tell you how to be Mr or Ms.fixit to how to play a game.
I'm glad this family is into books,books,and books,no matter what our ages are.

Patrick said...

Father, you know that your favorite books are anything that have to do with Conan the Barbarian.