Tag Archives: liberty

Confessions of a Book Lover, Part 2

Cover of "Blockade Billy"

Cover of Blockade Billy

This year for my birthday, I received two books: Liberty by Garrison Keillor and Blockade Billy by Stephen King.  They were both enjoyable reads that I read that same weekend.  I decided that I would make a goal for my self.   I was going to read 100 books for my 35th year.  That lasted about 2 minutes when I realized that 2 books a week might be a little bit (OK, quite a bit) too much to handle.  I decided that I would revise that goal to 50.  At a month to go before the half way point, I am actually doing pretty well–the count stands at 19.

But as I was looking at the list, I decided that it was time to refocus and recalibrate.  I love reading, but the reason that I set a specific goal is that I aspire to be a writer.  Almost every writer who talks about the craft has at least one piece of advice if you want to be a writer yourself: read.  I realized that I was picking up something that I had around the house, or an interesting looking book at the dollar store, or some pretty short books.  Now, I can’t say any of the books that I have read so far have been bad.  Quite the contrary.  But quite a few have been easy, leisurely reads.  For example: Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom.  Now, if you have read this book, you know that it is a heartfelt tribute to a beloved mentor.  It is full of wit and wisdom.  Truthfully a very good book.  But I finished it in one sitting.  While it had life lessons, it didn’t evoke feelings about myself, or make me question how I felt about certain things.

I decided that I was going to read 10 “classic” works.  Looking at my list, I had three that could easily fall into that category: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Seven more to go.  I could do this.

mark twain Category:Mark Twain images

Image via Wikipedia

Over Christmas, good luck smiled upon me.  On Lovely Wife’s side of the family, the adults draw names for gifts.  From my brother-in-law, I received a $25 dollar gift card to Barnes and Noble.  What a perfect gift.  Yesterday I made my mini-pilgrimage and picked up four books.  One relatively short: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger;  Two “regular” sized: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson; and one long one: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo.  So that makes seven.  Somewhere in the next seven months I also plan to read an epic novel.  Yup, that one.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  If that was accomplished, that would leave two more to go.  In case of a time crunch, I already have a plan: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  If I finish and have plenty of time to spare, I can revert back to my original goal.

Perhaps it is interesting to note that while you may not have been able to tell me who wrote Liberty or Blockade Billy, I’d be willing to wager that you didn’t need me to tell you who wrote most if not all of my classic selections.  Hmmm.

Anyway, wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Things that should bother me, but don’t.

We all have pet peeves.  Those  little annoyances that get under your skin.  Or maybe there are big things that you worry about, but you really aren’t in a position to change.  I was thinking about this recently, and I thought of a few things that should bother me, but don’t.

It should bother me that I am losing my hair.  There are so many things out there to halt this process or cover it up.  Rogaine.  Propecia.  Remember spray-on hair?  How about the stuff that you shake on your head?  If you would have talked to me 15 years ago I would have been singing a different tune.  Maybe it was because, in my early twenties, I was too worried about looking “old”.  I dunno.  But I remember complaining about it, and one of the girls that I was talking to told me that bald is beautiful.  I have pretty much embraced it since then.  I cut my hair very short, sometimes shaving it completely.  Now I just wish the rest of it would fall out so I wouldn’t have to worry about any upkeep.

Lovely Wife is terrible about waiting in lines.  We can pace back and forth at the grocery store, scanning people’s carts for whoever has the smallest load.  I tell her to just pick a line and commit.  Waiting in line just doesn’t bother me.  When I think about all the times in our lives spent waiting–waiting in traffic, waiting on the phone, waiting for someone to show up at your house–waiting in a line seems insignificant.  If you are alone, it gives you a little time, no matter how short, to just block out the rest of the world.  If you are with somebody, it is a short snippet of time where you can chat.  Maybe you can even turn it into quality time.  I probably wouldn’t talk about anything too important, though.  People like to eavesdrop.  I know I do.  Especially if I am standing in line with nothing else to do.

It doesn’t really bother me if people choose not to vote.  Hear me out on this one.  I think people should vote.  But abstaining from voting can be a vote in itself.  Maybe you don’t know enough about the candidates or issues to make an informed decision.  Maybe you do know enough, but just can’t pull the lever for any particular person without bile rising up in your throat.  Maybe you really don’t have the time.  Whatever the reason, I believe in your fundamental right not to vote.  As an American, I think that about the men and women that have stood up for my liberties.  One of those liberties it to do whatever the heck I want to on election day.  Have you ever looked at the election results of a country with some tin horn despot where the s.o.b. gets 100% of the vote?  What a sham.  Furthermore there are other ways to be a conscientious citizen.  Serve in the military–or don’t serve, because you disagree with our policies.  Volunteer your time.  Give money to charities, causes, or candidates.  Go to a city council meeting.  Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  Write a letter to whomever is representing you in Congress or Parliament, or whatever your representative body is.  Demonstrate.  Talk to other people about the things that matter to you.  Boycott an establishment that is doing something that is really rubbing you the wrong way.  Patronize one that is doing things right.  I think you should vote.  But if you don’t, it doesn’t bother me if you complain.  Go ahead.  It’s your right.

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