06 February 2009

Ex Libris FatScribe ...

One's personal library speaks volumes (no pun intended) about us as individuals, like one's wardrobe, or best friend or dog. (Take a look at George Lucas's personal study at SkyWalker Ranch, right.) The things we associate with on a daily basis mean something. These things, people, or objects that make-up our personal environ often project what is deep within us, wishing to come out, to be seen. All the world's a stage, and we merely want to show (however unconsciously) that we are players, even in some small way. When I pocket my Montblanc fountain pen in my Brooks Brothers suit, riding in my Lincoln MKX, looking at (my) Malibu through aviator sunglasses, I could be projecting something shallow or materialistic. Or, not. I could be another victim of Madison Avenue, or merely one who appreciates a certain aesthetic or the quality of a well-made item because that was the way my father dressed or that was the car my mom drove. (Btw, my mom drove a pea-green Honda Civic and my dad wore blue pants with white belt and shoes.)

But, books are different from the other things in our lives. (I suppose a quick distinction should be made here. If I am a book collector -- and not a reader -- acquiring first-editions to be displayed or held as an investment, then books are not so different.) Books are meant to inspire or move or just plain entertain; witness the great summer reads that dot the beaches from San Diego to Kinnebunkport. In fact, books can be a lot like our friends or mentors or family. A book is something that we ingest, and then hopefully pass through our lower and large psyche, -- just as our friends and family become immersed in our lives -- as an agent of change or provocateur. When I read John Ortberg's It All Goes Back in the Box, if I've actively read it, I am changed. Or, when we "read" the lives of a mentor or our parents we are changed ... hopefully for the better in both cases.

They say that we will waste what amounts to months of our lives waiting in line. Not me. I take a book with me everywhere I go. I carry one or two in my well-worn leather messenger bag (man purse), and when others are reaching for cell phones to waste their friend's time, I am busy learning about 20th century presidents in David Pietrusza's 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents. And, it all started with a Scholastic book that I read in 5th grade, The Iceberg Hermit, my first page turner that I couldn't put down. It was the first time that I was anxious to get off the bus and then run home to read. I can remember walking down to my neighbor's house, and lying down amongst several Birch trees in their front yard and just reading. And, I remember being sad when the fish-out-of-water story of this man trapped on an ice flow came to its dénouement. This book excited me. It moved me. And, looking back over this well-trod 30-year reading path, that book changed me. And that has made all the difference. A pretty good difference. Well, maybe not a huge difference, but at least I can drop some names at the cocktail party with all of the east coast swells. gawd, I'm such a poseur.

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