Friday, January 7, 2011

Problems and Confessions

Dad had A LOT of books. A total of 26 book boxes to be exact, and I only finished packing them today.  Half of them have already been transported home, and the other half are going home this weekend.  I didn't have the time or energy to go through each book individually to see if I should keep each one, so much to my husband's chagrin I erred on the side of packing them. 

But even I had to admit that a few of them would just never find a reader.  Some were outdated factual tomes, for example, on buying houses or building environmentally conscious buildings. There were also ones that were so above my head that I had to be honest about and throw out. These included all of the computer engineering books (most likely outdated as well) and books on topics such mathematics for physics or advanced chemistry.  All of these books were recycled.

I still feel really overwhelmed by how many I kept and the impossibility of reading some of them and sorting all of them in a sensible amount of time-- say before our next move.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The School by Donald Barthelme

Since I likely won't be reading a book a day or even a week, I thought I would fill in with the instant gratification of short stories. I don't know why short stories aren't more popular. They're quick and potent like poetry.  Kevin is teaching The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: 50 North American Stories Since 1970 (Touchstone Books) in class, so I'm picking out some stories from that one first. "The School" by Donald Barthelme is popular enough that I have come across it before. The first time I read it years ago, I thought it was charming and funny. But I'm older now, and my father recently passed away, and I have a baby on the way, and I often wonder, what have I done? What have I done bringing a child into this?

In fact, ironically, the first thing I noticed was not something about the story at all, but the author's birth and death dates. That's what I do now, I measure other people's tragedy against my own to determine how indignant I should be with the universe. Barthelme lived from 1931-1989, just 58 years. I looked it up; he died of cancer.  He was able to say something about life and death before he experienced the latter. That seems important.

Reading it now, it doesn't make me laugh. It makes me cry. Like the children, I want to know where, where, where. Like the children, I would like an assertion of value.

Books My Father Read

I have recently become addicted to book again the way I was when I was a small kid. I read anything I have reason to believe might be awesome.

I read the books I inherited from my dad after he passed away in 2010. This blog started as a project of mourning to read the books I kept, but has now become a personal passion. I also take recommendations from my husband who's a writing instructor, my friends who prefer different types of books, and Goodreads and Youtube reviewers who catch my attention.

This is my rating system for clarification:

4 Stars = This book was really good! Read it!
3 Stars = I enjoyed this book. I'm glad I read it.
2 Stars = This book a little bad. I wouldn't recommend it.
1 Stars = This book is kind of evil and takes a little joy and goodness out of the world.
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