NATIONAL READING MONTH & A MONUMENT IN MY MIND

“A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, enbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”  Milton

“Get caught reading.” Marco Eggslintz

Ah, 31 days of reading bliss–but why should March be any more right for reading than the other months? Anyone?

The books know.

By seeming coincidence with this month of glorifying the magic of reading, boxes and armloads of books found their way from our old home (our garage), into our new home.  They rejoined their cousins, the skeleton library, that moved in when we did several years ago.  They must have been tired of collecting dust out there, feeling neglected.  Once they got started, they kept coming, as if they’d made a pact that none should go unless all did.

In they marched, directing the building of shelves, colluding with the existing library to squeeze in by some logic: books by Presidents next to books about Presidents, Atlantis next to UFO next to Wicca, Walden Two next to Brave New World Revisited, Anaïs next to Henry next to the Marquis, old and rare books all up where grandkids can’t . . . and so on.

It was a real treat to get reacquainted with these books.  Each was wiped down, inspected for needed repairs, and reassessed for its value to the collection, and to the collectors. (Rejects were less than 1%).

How many books in all? Slightly more than 500, on slightly less than 20 meters of shelving. That’s not counting e-books, because I have so few. And not counting stacks of magazines, of course (40 years of Mother Earth News, 60 years of National Geographic, and many others from Ode to Yes to Omni, from Analog to Asimov’s, from Time to Farmstead to Earthlight, from Sierra to The International History Magazine to The Utne Reader, and more.)

I know that the new e-readers can gather up and squirrel away that many books in less time than it takes to rack up late charges at the library on just one. Yes, I deemed it important to publish RESET electronically, alongside print, still, I’ve yet to read even one e-book.

Is there any feeling quite like bringing home a new book, caressing its cover, holding it up to admire its look, front side, backside? The anticipation in reading is heightened by the size and heft of it compared to its maker’s promises, and by the very act of laying the book open, slowly, gently at first, easing into it, hoping to be transported for awhile away from our own lives.

The sensuality of books is an evolved effect, an agreement between reader, writer, designer, and time. Centuries in the making, the modern book is best when its design is invisible, when the goal of perfection comes so close to the mark that it seems like a gift handed down from God.  Maybe that’s going too far, but I wouldn’t trade all or any of the books I’ve collected for the same thing on a Nook or Kindle, though I wouldn’t mind having it both ways.

Another long-overdue project, that took four days, was clipping and filing articles from 200 or so old magazines to reduce the space taken to store the few nuggets in each issue.  10% was the average amount of useful content, timeless info, screened gleaned and cleaned. The 90% left over went recycling. This whole process was much like the books moving in: the sorting, the making space in one place while filling in another. This whole process should pay off in the future as I write more, and in life as Karen and I grow older. This whole process has nearly driven me crazy!!!

Ever play that memory game with cards, where you turn over a card, then another and it matches, and you keep the pair?  I like that game.  Now imagine using 13 decks of cards and different tables in different rooms. When I came across two or three articles that matched, I’d file them.  Some went into three-ring binders (56 in all). Others went into folders, hundreds of folders.

See Brian’s brain spin round and round.

Of course, a job like this requires the standard office equipment.  Also a flexible plan, spousal patience, persistence, speed, and room in your mind to construct a towering monument to the power of the pen.

“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” Bacon

“Bacon maketh a full man too, with hotcakes and honey.” Mel Efluous

Closing the Lid on the Coffin of Human Intellect–quick note. The Encyclopedia Britannica is going down. I see angels weeping in their wine. I am reminded of an old friend, Chuck Tessman, he read the whole set cover to cover. Now, who will do that with Wikipedia? No one. Better hang onto your old sets.

Happy Reading to you all year long. Brian

P.S. With my usual shotgun ambition, I considered adding a list of the books I’m currently reading.  I took pad and paper around the house, as I pondered the pointlessness of adding to so much so-called information on the Internet. I was surprised to find that I had markers in a dozen books.  That’s too many! I would’ve guessed six or seven. Maybe I have Attention Deficit? Why not?!  Might as well face it stoically. I’m already cursed with Uncombable Hair Syndrome and a bad case of perfectionism. Life is meant to be suffered. The universe is here to heap curses upon us.  

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