Is there a support group for this?

I really wish I could pinpoint what exactly makes me want to buy books.  I do it when I’m sad… a little when I’m angry… when I want to get out of the house… when I’m excited about something… when I’m planning something exciting… when I’m lonely… when I’m bored…

In short:  I buy books All.  The.  Time.

Case in point:

These have been my most recent acquisitions.  In my defense, I have finally found another individual with the same taste in literature so I’m excited to dive into some new books I hadn’t heard of before (Warbreaker, The Book Thief, and The Magicians).  Gone with the Wind is a chunky read for one of my book clubs online.  My Mile in Her Boots is missing in action and I FINALLY found another copy of it… and Lonesome Dove is an American classic that I promised myself I simply had to read.  And… well… “Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010” is edited by Dave Eggers and David Sedaris.  How can it possibly not be good?

My problem lies in the fact that I have slowed to the point of a crawl on my reading lately.  Apartment flood, move, job troubles, even bigger move, finding work troubles, and a sincere lack of comfy reading places in my current abode have all stepped in.  Or, rather, I have let them step in.  As my friend Jeff has always said (in not so many words) “make time.”

This weekend I worked on “making time.”  I made time to watch the first two disks of “How I Met Your Mother,” a five mile hike an hour from home, a few Borders stops, some spaghetti eating, some Sonic stopping, and to try to take a chunk out of my current read:  Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.

With NaNoWriMo bearing down on us oh so soon… and my total book count totaling less in the past three months than it has ever been in a single month earlier this year… I have to wonder if maybe I set my goal too low and now I’m just complacent.  “I met my goal, I can stop.”

Whatever the case is, my book buying is not up to speed with my reading.  At the rate I’m reading right now, I should only buy one book every… well… year.  In the time it would take me to read everything in my to-read pile… I’m going to be a busy person for the… oh…. rest of my natural LIFE.

So I ask, dear friends.  Is there a support group out there for book-buying-addicts like me?  Or am I the only person in the world comforted by the thought that there is a beautiful pile of books by my bed that will always be excited to see me?

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Walt Whitman: Oh Captain, My Captain

 

O Captain! My Captain!  
by Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack,
      the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
      While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart!
      O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
      O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for
      you the bugle trills, 

         For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths- for you the shores
             a-crowding,
          For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
             Here Captain! dear father!
               This arm beneath your head!
                 It is some dream that on the deck,
                   You've fallen cold and dead.

          My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
          My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
          The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
          From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
               Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                 But I with mournful tread,
                   Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                     Fallen cold and dead.

 

Nothing says “Back to School” quite like a class of inspired students. 🙂

John Updike: “A&P”

I still find it odd that “A&P” is among my favorite short stories, seeming that it his heavily influenced by JD Salinger’s early work. 

Nonetheless, today’s little pice of literature comes to you from John Updike’s pen.  “Modern day chivalry” at its best.  That is in quotations because… well… it was either chivalry or an excuse to quit his job.  I’m leaning toward excuse but who is counting?

What draws me to this story over and over is the imagery.  There really isn’t much dialogue considering how much is going on.  Updike brings us in to discover his world with our other senses first… sights and sounds.  Then we get the dialogue that gives us the overall conflicts. 

He describes the girls with such detail that if i had the ability to draw something other than stick figures… I would try. 🙂

Dr. Jonathan Swift

Today’s piece of literary genius is brought to you by Dr. Jonathan Swift.  It is one of his more popular pieces called “A Modest Proposal.”

Political writing seems to have become something of a pissing contest.  Everyone’s writing books bashing someone who doesn’t have the same belief system they do.  It seems we have lost the fundamental basis of what made this country in the first place–the right and privilege to have your own ideas.  Instead of being intelligent about debate and differences, we have resorted to name calling and defensiveness.

Rewind to the 1700’s and the era of the political satire.  Educated people would facilitate change by making people see how stupid they were acting.  They brought us the greatest political literature every written:  the satire.  Voltaire’s Candide, Gulliver’s Travels, and “Modest Proposal” all came together to poke fun at the way the government and society was conducted.  In the 1800’s, Oscar Wilde continued the tradition by launching a full-out “attack” on society.

…and people got mad.  As they always do when they don’t understand something.

So for your Monday enjoyment, here is Dr. Swift doing the wonders of “tongue-in-cheek.”  Now where are my gloves……

Robert Frost

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

 

Probably one of Frost’s more famous works.  It was featured in The Outsiders as well as in a New Found Glory song/album, pretty much cementing it into the mind of my generation and the one before me.  I know I’ll never forget the poem because of the book. 

 

ee cummings

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness) 

 

Eight years ago, I wanted to read poetry.  Smart people love poetry because everything isn’t spelled out for them like it is in fiction.  There are things to discuss, ponder.  You don’t always have all the pieces you need for the whole picture simply handed to you.  I thought was smart, so I should like poetry.

I emerged from that strange and tumultuous time with two very important tidbits of information:  (1) there is very little poetry worth reading and (2) ee cummings is among those elite few.

Giving a full analysis isn’t my intention here.  I don’t want to give some high school or college kid the answers to their homework (although if your English teacher/professor has assigned this poem, your English teachers are WAY cooler than mine ever were…) or give you some deep philosophical meaning in broken sentences.  We are consistently bombarded with stupid crap marauding as “intellectual stimulation” (i.e. a lot of prime time TV and some fairly popular book series) that I think maybe we’ve temporarily forgotten what it is like to be challenged by our entertainment.

So!  Enjoy. 🙂

Why did I pick this piece first?  It was one of the first poems I ever discovered by ee cummings.  What does it mean?  As with any piece of fiction, it can mean different things to different people.  It all depends on your experience.    Some may see it as a testament to God’s unending love (the church being a representation of Him).  Others may see it as a picture of life.  Still others may see it as a “do what you do with all your might” poem.

Isn’t that the beauty of good literature?  How it allows itself to be loved by so many different people with so many different experiences?