October 15, 2008

A glimpse: the bookshelves

The whole shelving unit

Moving downstairs, we have the bookshelves. These are Metro shelves that we bought when we first moved into our first house - speaking of first houses, big congrats to my neighbor at school who just bought his first house - and needed somewhere to put all our books and cd's and television and kitchen implements. We've now got a dozen of the units (from more generic manufacturers than Metro) in our shed, our garage, our laundry room, and the downstairs family room. They're awesome, utilitarian shelves, but I'm starting to think that I'm at a point in life where I want some shelves that are more stylish, more solid, more wooden than these.

But that's for another day. For today, let's take a look in more detail at each part of the shelves.

Up top - only visible in the top photo - we have a dozen Kevin Smith Inaction Figures from Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Clerks. I gave up on the collection before Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back came out. I even have Walt, Steve Dave, and Dixie Cup Brodie 'cause I'm a completist like that. I did, however, pass on all the Kevin Smith figures.

...for which I'm a little sad from time to time...

And the cats are from World Market and were a gift to The Girl on her worst birthday with me yet. Good times that one - big fight, but that's for another day, too.

Now, moving downward to the top shelf, left to right...

Top left

The bobblehead is Frank Robinson, picked up a couple of years ago at Great American. A few books over is Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show which is a hell of a book and took a long route back to these shelves as I loaned it out to a student of mine at Mount Healthy. This past school year - about eight years later - Jason found himself as an observing teacher ed student at PHS and brought the book back to me. I never thought I'd get that book back, and I was okay with that. Book lent out should never be demanded back. Let them go, set them free. And when/if they come back, they're gifts.

Further across is another book that has had more of an effect on me - The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I read that one as a sophomore at Wabash as part of a course that every sophomore took (and still takes) and as a text that every Wabash student had read and discussed. I learned more about how a man can change - and Malcolm X made amazing changes in his lives - in his life and absolutely refute what he had so readily believed beforehand. I remember wondering - ignorantly - how Wabash could have a multi-cultural center named after Malcolm X who was - as I said at the time - against our country and in favor of violent revolution. A junior in the room asked me what I really knew about Malcolm X, politely but pointedly questioning my dogmatism, and I had little to back up my statement. A year later, after I had read The Autobiography, I knew much more and have tried not to make such stupid, assumptive statements since. People are much more complex than simple soundbites and historical snapshots could and do ever show.

Most of the rest of those books aren't mine. I'm not in the paperback fiction world for the most part. The silver cup - generic metal with a clear plastic base - holds sea glass collected on the beaches of Scotland and foreign coins brought back from my year overseas. I haven't looked in the cup for a long time, but it reassures me to know that it's there.

The other two books up there that matter to me are Brave New World and Slaughterhouse Five. The Vonnegut is probably my favorite book of all time though the Huxley is in the running as well. I read Slaughterhouse every couple of years and enjoy it more every time.

On the second shelf down is the lone book that I've ever stolen from a library - not accidentally kept, not lost, absolutely and intentionally stolen, kept, and paid for: Electric Brae. During my summers between college years, I was reading a whole lot, browsing the public library sort of at random, and I picked up Electric Brae a month or so before I headed to my junior year in Scotland. I began the book and found myself deep into a fantastic love triangle in and around Aberdeen where I was flying in a few short weeks. I didn't know the setting before I started reading the book. The coincidence caught me and meant something to me at the time.

A year later, I checked the book out again and found a bookmark inside it, left there by a previous reader. On the front of that bookmark was a phone number and name of a friend of mine, and on the back was another of each. I mentioned this in passing to The Girl, and she mentioned that she'd checked the book out on my recommendation and must've left her bookmark in it. I believed - or assumed or hoped - that somehow only she and I had checked the book out in the year. I kept the book and sent a letter and a check to the library explaining my choice.

The Harry Potters are ones I've read maybe half of. The rest I've listened to, enjoying Jim Dale's voices.

The "Really Really Dangerous" toy is The Box which tested The Tick on the first episode of his cartoon series. The toys weren't popular, and I've got every one. Actually, The Girl has every one as I bought them as gifts to her - collecting them on her behalf.

The figures are The Bride from Kill Bill, the Golgothan from Dogma, and a Crazy 88 killer also form Kill Bill.

Top right

The ceramic stein celebrates my high school's lone basketball state title from 1973, two years before I was born, and it sat on my parents' shelves for a couple of decades before I took it to college with me. I have no idea whether my parents know where that stein ever went. Mom, if you're reading, I've got it. Thanks.

Next shelf down, behind the Crazy 88 killer, you can see "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead", a play by Tom Stoppard based on "Hamlet". It's a hilarious, brilliant play but one that shouldn't be read until after you've digested and understood "Hamlet". I'll also recommend the movie version with Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, and Richard Dreyfus.

The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by WP Kinsella - author of Shoeless Joe which became Field of Dreams. This one's a little more fantastical but no less marvelous. It tells the tale of a baseball fan and researcher who finds himself slipped back in time, playing in a game of a league that only he remembers existing, falling in love with a woman whose spirit echos that of his oft-absent wife. Around this tale weaves in and out the tale of a native American spirit who is using his every bit of magic to support the local team against the Chicago Cubs traveling team in a game that lasts forty days and nights while the clouds drop steady rain and the river rises, threatening to wipe away the ballfield. It's a magical ride and one I need to take again.

The far right - hanging up - is my Lambda Chi Alpha associate paddle (it's a pledge paddle but without the hazing). It was given to me by John Prince, the second Prince brother to go through my fraternity house. John and his brothers graduated from the same high school that I did, and John was a great mentor at Wabash and in the house. His elder brother, Steve, was the one who got me to first take a look at Wabash, and I owe him immensely for that.

Center left

the marbles came from my paternal grandparents' home, and I stupidly broke the first glass containers that I put them in. The big blue ball is LeRoy's favorite toy. He can't quite get his mouth all the way around it, so he can't pick it up and chew on it, but he loves to bat it around and scratch at it. It's annoying and hilarious.

Again, a bunch of books I don't care about and/or haven't read.

The wooden fish came from The Girl's grandmother's house. It's never held books in our house.

Flatland - behind the fish - is a dual book with Sphereland taking the story to another dimension. I first read Flatland as a seventh-grader in my English class with Sandra VanOsdol (sp?), a wonderful teacher whom I loved dearly.

Next shelf down...lots of my books here. City and Pyramid by David McCauley are brilliant books, telling historical tales of ancient societies through graphical means. They're not for tiny kids, but they're certainly for certain kids in the mid- and upper-elementary grades, and I first found them then. They're in our artsy section of the shelves and are next to three Eschers and a Matisse. The Escher's are mine; the Mattise The Girl's.

She also owns the next few music books - Rolling Stone's encyclopedia, the Beatles book in black and pink. They're from college classes that she took at Indiana University. There are very few instances when I am or have been envious of people attending any school other than Wabash, but The Girl's three classes on the History of Rock (parts I and II plus the Beatles) were certainly those.

American Songs and Ballads is a collection that I should know better and that was passed down from mom's shelves.

We are Still Married is a collection of Garrison Keillor, and I brought it back for The Girl from Scotland, my lone gift for her and something I picked up from a used book store there. We weren't romantically involved at the time, but I apparently thought the title meant something and remembered listening to Prairie Home Companion on Sunday nights in Bloomington together.

Two more dog toys that we have to lift up and keep away from LeRoy for much of the time. He'd drive us bonkers and hurt himself if we didn't.

Center right

Past the fish now...all of my Hunter S Thompson books. The Great Shark Hunt is the best and most inconsistent of those. It has the best writing that Hunter ever put together and is one to read for anyone interested in checking out Hunter for the first time.

In the middle of the Thompson is Night by Elie Weisel, the hardest book that I've ever read. I read that the same year that I read Malcolm X, and I enjoyed Night far less. It moved me every bit as much, however, as it is a phenomenal account of a man's life.

There a bunch of cartoon books then. The Bloom County material has aged poorly, and I haven't read any of them in a long while. The Bus on the bother hand, is ageless, hilarious, and just weird.

Downward again...you get another book that came coincidentally to me. In my freshman year, we read Infinite in All Directions, a memoir by Freeman Dyson. It explored Dyson's thoughts on all sorts of aspects of science, and we looked at what he had to say on the morals of modern technology. I took the book with me to Aberdeen and began to re-read the tome on the airplane to Scotland. I noticed then that the book was built from a series of lectures given at the University of Aberdeen, where I was heading to spend a year. Another coincidence? Well, yeah, but it felt meaningful to me at the time.

Bottom left

Not much to look at here. There's a pile of books too big to fit upright on our shelves. There's In the Shadow of No Towers, a withering honesty, frighteningly personal reaction to the 9/11 attacks from Art Speigelman. It's not comics for children, and it's not even comics for most adults. It's worth a read, however.

There's another Escher at the bottom of that pile and a bunch of magazines between - Rolling Stones, National Geographic, Time, and others - including the two years of yearbooks from my junior high school years.

Bottom right

The two Sandman volumes have a matching first volume that's loaned out to TL right now. and they're the expensive, uber hardcover versions of Gaiman's masterwork series. They're expensive, and they're indulgent, but I love them.

The last books there - the furthest right - are the yearbooks from my first year at Mount Healthy and the my three years of high school yearbooks. At least I think they're mine. They could be The Girl's because we were in high school together.

Hmmm...rather anticlimactic. Sorry, folks...

Next week, my cd's...there are a bunch of them, so I don't know how much commentary I'll be offering.


joey said...

weird. i was forreal about to read the autobiography of malcom X this past summer. I figured the white pool patrons would probably be a little weirded out with their concession worker reading it, and, I'll be honest, it's really big.

I will read it though. Even if i need to buy it, I will read it.

calencoriel said...

Where did you get those cool Kill Bill figures?

PHSChemGuy said...

Dude, you gots to read Malcolm X...I seriously think it might be the book that helped shape my thinking more than anything else I've read it...I'll give you my copy if you want...

from you, Calen...as I did the Red Sox/Bill Simmons book I also didn't mention...a bunch of things around the house fall into that category of being from you...

achilles3 said...

i have always intended to read Malcolm X...it just moved up the list.
88's hot