I have an addiction to books. It’s severe, and I’m unfortunately beyond all hope. You see, when I enter a bookstore, I inevitably leave with a book..or two. There never ceases to be some new book that looks completely fascinating to me, and I just can’t resist.
I will attempt to document this addiction here, so that both you and I might understand it further. It might be a good idea to first examine the myriad of books currently stacked next to my bed. I will give the title and author of the book, and then talk about what inspired me to read it.
1. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – this was a recent purchase of mine, based upon the high praise it has received of being among Hemingway’s best work. It documents his time in Paris after the First World War, and his experiences living and writing there amongst many other famous personalities like Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald. His descriptive prose of Paris during that time really transports you there, and you see what he was seeing. My reason for reading it stems from the fact that I’ve never read any Hemingway. Reason enough.
2. The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis – A collection of Lewis’ essays, on a variety of topics. I’m mostly through it, but Lewis can be so deep at times that I have to reread passages over and over to fully get what he’s saying. So far, probably the most rewarding book I’ve read by him. I have a lifetime goal of reading all of his work, so this is me striving for that.
3. Poke the Box by Seth Godin – I mentioned this one yesterday, but it’s an excellent book on “shipping” your project, whatever project or goal that might be. Sometimes all it takes is initiative and going for it, and this short little 70-pager encourages you to take the big leap.
4. Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris – The second volume in Edmund Morris’ trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt. This particular volume covers Roosevelt’s years as president. Teddy has always fascinated me, as a man and as a president. His “can do” attitude, conquering asthma and sickness through rigorous exercise as a child, is quite inspiring. He was the first president to use his presidential authority as a “bully pulpit”, engaging the American people. He was very much an anti-trust president, though it’s interesting to see how his views on that changed during his time in office. I’m loving reading about his life…and for those of you who might not know me as well, I tend to study all things US history.
5. The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. I by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I had never read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories until a few months ago, when I began reading this collection. What inspired me to start was the new BBC series Sherlock, which is a modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes adventures. I cannot recommend the series highly enough, since it is a faithful adaptation of Doyle’s original idea of Holmes. The 3 episodes are each 1 and a half hours, with more episodes coming this fall. Reading about Sherlock’s “science of deduction” has inspired me to be more observant of my own surroundings. It is remarkable how much you notice in life when you just pay attention to the details.
6. The Gift by Lewis Hyde – this one was given to me by a friend for my birthday, and it deals with artists and how they present their gifts to the world. I’m particularly interested in the implications of this idea for the theatre world, as I know my friend is. How should theatre be presented to the public in a way that benefits them without becoming an entirely commercial endeavor? How is this balanced with the need for the theatre company to make money in order to continue practicing their gifts? Since I haven’t finished the book, I don’t yet know what Hyde’s answer to these questions are…but the ideas that the book presents are compelling.
7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – I’ve loved Steinbeck’s writing ever since reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school. He’s able to evoke the American wilderness with his words in such a picturesque and detailed way. I feel bad about this one though, because I’ve stopped reading East of Eden as I’ve begun to get more absorbed in these other books. The book is great so far, but my attention has been wandering as of late.
8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – this was recommended to me by another friend, and it happens to be one of the most acclaimed books of 2010. A true story of an African American woman, who died of cervical cancer, with cells that continue to live on in vaccines, aiding in gene mapping, and being used by billions. This is the most recent book I’ve picked up, and it will also likely be the first that I finish. I’m cracking it open tonight, and I can’t wait to learn more about this story. A collision of ethics, race, and medicine, as the back of the book suggests.
Those are just the books sitting by my bed. There are several more on my bookshelves that I haven’t even cracked open yet. And this is the problem! I will buy books before finishing others. I will start to read books, discover another book, and start reading that one instead. I will be 25% through with several books, and yet start another. I cannot be stopped.
Is this simply a lack of attention? I don’t think so, since I’m fully engaged with a book once I’m reading it. I also don’t think it’s entirely about me wanting to build a grand library someday, though that’s surely a small part of it. I think it might just be that my interests are constantly swinging in all different directions like some crazed monkey. I want to be in all places at once, reading all things at once…and this results in huge stacks of books and me reading nothing.