March 12, 2007

Book 'Em, Dann-o

Hah, this isn't about Hawaii Five-0. But bonus marks if that's what you thought. My mom never missed an episode of Jack Lord gazing off camera as his windswept hair dashingly curled around his forehead.

I think you can learn a lot about a person by seeing what they keep on their bookshelves. If they don't have any books, that's your first clue. I actually knew a girl once whose home had no books in it. No newspapers, no magazines (unless you count the Enquirer) and no books. It was a veritable wasteland, and I always remembered wondering what kind of cruel parenting it was to never encourage reading.

I'm a snoop when it comes to bookshelves. I've never looked in a medicine cabinet in my life at someone's home, but I could spend hours at their bookcase. My bookshelves are all tumbly down messy, in no particular order and quirky as hell. I love lots of different things, which is reflected in what I call my eccentric collection. My sister calls it crazy.

I caught up this article in The Independent today that cracked me up. It lists the top ten books that people own, but have never read. I'm guilty of several of them. The all-time snoozer is Stephen Hawkings Brief History of Time, which was anything but. When Brad moved in with me, we put his copy beside mine. Neither had ever been opened.

I never made it through James Joyce's Ulysses, though it was assigned in Brit Lit back in university. I've tried repeatedly since, to no avail. I've read no Harry Potter, though the full collection is here on the shelves. I hate fantasy. I have tried the Underpainter three times; Son of the Circus four, and War and Peace probably a dozen times. Nope. Can't do it.

I struggle at the other end of the spectrum equally. Danielle Steele stuff makes me shudder, and all that chick lit just sounds the same to me. I'd call myself a book snob, but I can't read the good-for-me stuff either. Books shouldn't be medicine, nor should they be cotton candy.

As a rule I stick to favourite authors, and chase down suggestions on forums that I like - book reviews, magazines I enjoy, people I admire. But all this lying about what we really read has to stop. There is scarcely enough time for all the great writing out there to be wasting time on all the emporer-has-no-clothes stuff.

I like my books the same way I like my people: unpretentious, enlightening and thoughtful. Extra points if you make me laugh.


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