Personal observations of one writer. Frequent references to pop culture, blues music and lifetime truths.
Monday, July 9, 2012
By the Cover?
At first the title of the article caught my attention. What's on your bookshelf? A most intriguing question but a little too much like the advertising slogan, What's in your wallet. Sure enough, the "article" was nothing more than a front for an internet dating web site. And like the latter, it turned out to be just as superficial, just as loaded with all the complexities of shallow images and stereotypes. Ok, so here's the deal; if you look at somebody's book shelf, you'll get the portal to the soul. That way you can either pursue the friendship or let it be because there wouldn't have been a connection anyway.
Please! Are people that naive? Aren't there any number of reasons that a book could wind up on someone's shelf? How about gifts, or classes taken, or even the ones that people just abandon. Then there are those books that come into and out of our lives through friends, family, neighbors, and happenstance. Found books, inherited books, uncovered and discovered books. There are the mistakes and the outtakes and the just plain how'd that get in there?
Still, the question beckons. What can we tell from looking at a person's book shelf. I know I never pass up the chance to look at or in a bookcase. It's actually one of my favorite things when going to someone's home for the first time.
Aside from the staged books in a living room or on a coffee table, I'll admit that there is much to learn about a person from tallying up what they read or appear to read.
I look for a balance between fiction and non-fiction. Seldom find one, but when I do, I'm sure to find some familiar titles. The article referenced above said that if a person has Alice Munroe and Raymond Carver then expect the person to be quietly offbeat. I have those two, but that's hardly me. It mentioned that J.D. Salinger's books probably mean a person is idealistic. No, it means that Salinger's work is popular, enduring, and often read in high school.
I was trying to think of a few things on my book shelves that truly say something about me or would be the kinds of title that defy any classification. Perhaps something like my small collection of Kenneth Patchen picture poem books, or my trove of fly fishing books, or maybe the adolescent literature I own. OK just kidding, but there must be something that throws a curveball. How about Oregon's Covered Bridges, or the novel The Sharpshooter Blues? Getting there. I know, I'll go look and get back to you.
Retired from full-time teaching, moved to Portland, Or in July of '06 to write a memoir of late 1960s, fly-fish on weekdays and find a writing group. Book done, nice rainbow caught and released on a Tuesday, member of The Guttery, a successful Portland writing group.
Currently supervising and mentoring beginning teachers, reading, writing like never before, and living in the moment.