Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My 6,128 Favorite Books

Joe Queenan has written a cracking piece in the Wall Street Journal about his reading addiction and the purpose of books. Read the whole thing, or just read my choice quotes (almost half the article):


... I've never squandered an opportunity to read. There are only 24 hours in the day, seven of which are spent sleeping, and in my view at least four of the remaining 17 must be devoted to reading. A friend once told me that the real message Bram Stoker sought to convey in "Dracula" is that a human being needs to live hundreds and hundreds of years to get all his reading done; that Count Dracula, basically nothing more than a misunderstood bookworm, was draining blood from the necks of 10,000 hapless virgins not because he was the apotheosis of pure evil but because it was the only way he could live long enough to polish off his extensive reading list.

... I avoid inspirational and self-actualization books; if I wanted to read a self-improvement manual, I would try the Bible. Unless paid, I never read books by or about businessmen or politicians; these books are interchangeably cretinous and they all sound exactly the same: inspiring, sincere, flatulent, deadly. Reviewing them is like reviewing brake fluid: They get the job done, but who cares?

....I do not accept reading tips from strangers, especially from indecisive men whose shirt collars are a dramatically different color from the main portion of the garment.

...  hope to get through another 2,137 books before I die—and so far it has not included time for "The Audacity of Hope" or "The Whore of Akron," much less "Father John: Navajo Healer." I hate having books rammed down my throat, which may explain why I never liked school: I still cannot understand how one human being could ask another to read "Death of a Salesman" or "Ethan Frome" and then expect to remain on speaking terms.

... Until recently, I wasn't aware how completely books dominate my physical existence. Only when I started cataloging my possessions did I realize that there are books in every room in my house, 1,340 in all. My obliviousness to this fact has an obvious explanation: I am of Irish descent, and to the Irish, books are as natural and inevitable a feature of the landscape as sand is to Tuaregs or sand traps are to the frat boys at Myrtle Beach. You know, the guys with the belted shorts. When the English stormed the Emerald Isle in the 17th century, they took everything that was worth taking and burned everything else. Thereafter, the Irish had no land, no money, no future. That left them with words, and words became books, and books, ingeniously coupled with music and alcohol, enabled the Irish to transcend reality.

... Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who have clutter issues, or who don't want other people to see that they are reading books about parallel universes where nine-eyed sea serpents and blind marsupials join forces with deaf Valkyries to rescue high-strung albino virgins from the clutches of hermaphrodite centaurs, but they are useless for people engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after.

Hatip goes to the Tim Melvin from the SpecList!

2 comments:

Holly from Canada said...

I'm also overwhelmed by the amount of books on my "to read" list. I have a Sony ereader and never use the thing...it's NOT the same!

Riz said...

Hey Holly, I share your sentiments wrt one's reading list. But you have given me an idea. Perhaps at the end of the year I will revise my reading list away from "books I wish I could read" to "books I plan to read". This will require a cull of 90% of the list's population but it must be done!!!