Wednesday, April 21, 2004

On Books

Books are an absolutely necessary part of survival, for me anyway. I love books; the way they feel and smell, the sound of the pages turning, their titles and covers and everything. I read books from cover to cover, including all the stuff about what the printface is called. The only problem with books is the space they take. I will have to move soon, unless I can think of a way to store more books in the existing house. I'm already shelving them three-books-deep, and I have installed shelves in the basement and the garage, even though this ruins the books (you can still read them). I have books in every room of the house except for the bathroom (this is because too many fell in the tub).

I haven't written about books very much here, and the reason is probably that writing about any one writer singles that one out and seems to suggest that the others are not as wonderful, and I love them all too much to do this. But I've figured out a way to write about books without making such gross judgments: I'm going to use categories!

The first one is: Books that I can see from where I'm sitting. This includes a book about how to use your tablesaw (it's fabulous!), Octavia Butler's The Dawn (not as good as some of the others), The Annotated Journals of Sylvia Plath (no comment), The Art of Lacemaking(not as hard as I thought), Anna Paword's The Tulip(interesting, but too expensive), Vogue Sewing, The Bible of Karate, The Midnight Sun, the Tzar and the Nihilist (a weird nineteenth century book about a Brit visiting Russia), Patriarchy by Phyllis Chesler and Binmore and Dasgupta's Economic Organizations as Games.
I picked one random book from each group of shelves dedicated to a particular topic, though there are some shelves behind my back, so what's on those will remain a secret.

The second category: Books that are very big or very small. The smallest book I own is called The Little Book of Candy-Making, printed in 1911. The largest book is probably one of the encyclopedias, though I also own an enormous Collected Works by Rabelais.

The third category: Books that are hard. This is easy: Karl Marx's Das Kapital, The Tibetan Book of the Dead and all my books on topology. Also Wittgenstein.

The fourth category: Foreign books that I especially like. Well, almost all books are by foreigners from my standpoint, but I love Dostoyevsky, Turgenev and Austen. I think I hate Kafka, though I read him a lot. He appeals to my sick side too much, and the same is true of Proust. I also dig Marguerite Durand.

The fifth category: Hateful books that I own. Not many, as I tend to stomp on them and then tear them to pieces. But I still own Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. I hate it for quite complicated reasons.

The sixth and final category: Interesting and weird books. I have an autographed Agatha Christie, several hand-written and hand-illustrated books and a book of poetry by someone called Veranda Porch. Veranda Porch!

Right now I'm reading Rumi. Good stuff, though from the male angle as usual. And what are you reading?