Hello. My name is Tim, and I am a bibliophile.
At least I think I am. If not, I would like to be. I’m either that or a bookworm; I‘m not sure which applies. A bibliophile is one who suffers from bibliophilia, the love of books, whereas a bookworm is someone who loves books and either has worms or also loves worms. I’m pretty sure I’m not a bibliomaniac however, which is someone who stalks books with the faint hope of catching a glimpse of them without their slipcover and spirals into a jealous rage when someone else checks them out.
I don’t love books per se, but I do like books almost as much as I like to use the phrase ‘per se.’ This explains the bottom of my page as I keep everyone abreast of what I am reading and have read with the hopes of creating the notion that I am educated and well-liked. (In case you haven’t noticed, I also leave a mini review of the book I have just finished, which can be accessed by hovering your mouse over the photo. For my Wiccan readers, I‘m talking about your computer mouse.) I suppose I will keep doing this until I come up with or am shamed into a better idea.
I wouldn’t say I am an avid book collector, though I have purchased books I don’t see myself ever reading. Such purchases have largely been of the “impressionist” genre. These are books acquired for the purpose of impressing those who see them. For example, I own a leather-bound set of Shakespeare’s Complete Works though everyone knows I’m more of a Sonic guy than a Sonnet guy. Gotta have my tots.
My love of books didn’t really begin until my late 20’s when I realized I was in my late 20’s and still didn’t know anything. My education was largely of the cram-and-dump variety and like most Americans, my opinions were those given to me by others. At that time in my life my salary and its resultant free-time allowed for more of the activities I had always enjoyed, but I eventually discovered that realizing my potential in Nintendo and slotless racing were not moving me toward self-actualization. I thus began to seek out information that I might actually retain and use in things like voting and conversation. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that such information was contained in books — even the sort of lame, idiotic ones I was required to read in high-school and college, with the exception of Billy Budd of course.
Today I read a lot of history and culture, theology and philosophy. I am especially interested in how the ideas of theology and philosophy shape our culture and how we tend to consistently throw out the good ideas and cling desperately to the bad ones with the hope that the next time around they won’t work out so poorly — ideas like Marxism or electing incumbents or painting rooms yellow.
Unfortunately, few of these books foster optimism about our future as they often say we as a society are currently riding the rotational vortex of the proverbial flush. A good one I have read this year that talks about this is Why You Think the Way You Do by Glenn Sunshine. It explains how the West has come full circle to hold the same worldview that destroyed ancient Rome, i.e. that everything is more fun when wearing a toga. Another example I recently read is Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, an impressive treatise on why I don’t understand what it says.
Fictionally, I have found that once you get past an author’s third novel, you are reading crap. Clancy, Grisham, Forsyth, Turow, and King are all authors I have read too far into their careers. An exception that proves this rule is perhaps Michael Crichton, who didn’t lose his edge until his last couple of efforts, one of which was written after he was dead. This phenomena is probably due to the signing of a contract and thus a switch from writing for one’s self to writing for a mass market, which sounds like trying to appeal to Catholics but doesn’t mean that at all and leads to lame jokes like, “Was Obama’s change in contraception policy an attempt to appeal to the Mass market?”
I like to read classic fiction, because (presumably) it has to be fairly good or it wouldn’t be considered ‘classic.’ I like Hugo’s work and Dumas’ and Conrad’s and Twain’s. Shelly’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula are excellent, but I must have had the Dickens scared out of me while reading them, because I don’t get why everybody thinks he is so great. I don’t like Faulkner or Fitzgerald either because nothing happens. I think a good story should usually have something happen.
There are a lot of ‘classics’ out there that are only considered so because they’re really long and it’s easier to call them good than to actually read them. War and Peace is an example. And so is Moby Dick. The only reason anybody knows anything about Moby Dick is because of an old Woody Woodpecker cartoon.
“But Tim, you are so funny looking! Don’t you read books that are funny?” This is an excellent question, and I am glad you read it.
I like to read humorous fiction, but finding a good one is like trying to find a sitcom about heterosexuals: there just aren’t very many out there. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is the holy grail of this genre and I have not even ventured to read any of his other works because doing so will no doubt lead to a Rolling Stone-esque dissatisfaction. Candide and Don Quixote are amusing, but both are social commentaries on antiquated societies and one is really hard to spell. I have tried to read Kurt Vonnegut and Tim Robbins, who have both produced numerous ‘humorous’ novels, but I don’t get them because of my tendency toward sobriety. Even Dave Barry, whose humorous non-fiction is genius, has yet to put together a novel I can finish which kind of makes me feel bad. Sorry Dave. You’re still The Man.
As I see the bottom of the page rapidly approaching, I should probably quash my ramblings. Feel free to offer a reading recommendation for me to ignore. I am always on the lookout for recommendations from people I respect and since you have read this far, you are automatically included in this category.
Here are my alliterated fiction faves:
1) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. If you ever spent time in the military, you know what it’s like to work for a major “Scheisskopf,” even though he was just a lieutenant in this classic.
2) Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Bonfire holds the distinction of winning the Pulitzer for “Best Novel Adapted Into Worst Movie Ever.”
3) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. An astounding story that took me six weeks to read, but that’s only because I read it one word at a time.
4) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Written when she was only 18, it is better and more insightful than anything her more famous husband put together.
5) Roots by Alex Hailey. If you have yet to be nauseated by the North American slave trade, you either haven’t read this book or are white or both. Bring the Tums.
6) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Human nature exposed and Congress’ tag line: The rules apply to everyone but me.
7) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. An uncanny prediction of today written in the 1930s.
8) Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. I’ve read it a couple of times, seen the movie thrice and am still surprised by the ending.
9) 1984 by George Orwell. An uncanny prediction of today written in the 1940s.
10) Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. “Yes We Can!” does not mean “Yes We Should!”