I was lying in bed thumbing through my iPhone photos and a theme emerged. It’s a common thread that’s been there for years, but I didn’t see it until I read One For The Books by humorist Joe Queenan. It’s about his love for books and bookstores–two subjects near and dear to my heart.
On my About page, it says I don’t have a clue what constitutes proper parenting. Ain’t that the truth! I hadn’t planned on having children but here I am responsible for raising two daughters. I’ve made some stupid missteps and colossal blunders, but Queenan’s book made me realize that I actually did get one really important thing right. Without intending to, I gave them a beautiful gift. Since Queenan is a much, much better writer that I can ever hope to be, I’ll let him take it from here.
“It’s helpful for small children if the first book that grabs their attention is also the first book that breaks their hearts. It gets them in the mood for Romeo and Juliet, Ethan Fromme, marriage, life.”
“…you will discover, as Samuel Johnson observed, that not all wisdom is to be found in books. But an awful lot of it is.”
“Because of books, my children grew up to be bright and inquisitive, while a lot of their peers grew up to be clowns. Social scientists will tell you that surrounding your children with books will have no quantifiable effect on the molding of their personalities. Nature trumps nurture at every turn, they maintain. But, as is so often the case with social scientists, they are wrong.”
“…a person develops early in life a pattern of behavior or a set of complimentary skills to deal with a particular problem, but then, long after the problem has been resolved, he does not automatically abandon the behavior. Decades after my bitter housing project days were over, I continued to read feverishly, almost desperately, at all hours of the day and night, because reality was never as sublime as the reality to be found in books. And once you are hooked, you are hooked.”
“To order a book online [instead of visiting a bookstore], to procure it by overnight shipment, would wreck everything. It would strip my life of all the magical, unscientific qualities I most value.”
“The presence of books in my hands, my home, my pockets, my life will never cease to be essential to my happiness. I will never own an e-reader. I have no use for them. A dimly remembered girlfriend’s handwriting will never take me by surprise in a Nook. A faded ticket to the Eiffel Tower will never fall out of a Kindle. I am a Luddite and proud of it.”
“Purchasing a secondhand book does absolutely nothing for a writer. Less than nothing. There is, it seems to me, a poverty of spirit about not wanting to purchase the shiny new book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. People should consider it an honor to pay full price for a book by Don DeLillo or Margaret Atwood. An honor.”
* * *
Look at this ridiculous juxtaposition:
That would be EXCURSION, me, ARMADA. Out here in the rough, tough New Jersey suburbs, you need an ARMADA to take what’s thrown at you. I love the names. They convey an image. The dictionary defines ARMADA as:
1. any fleet of warships.
2. a large group or force of vehicles, airplanes, etc.: an armada of transport trucks.
These behemoths are piloted by suburban housefraus wearing sweat pants, yammering into on cell phones and carrying an extra large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Not invading hordes of Mongolians. Big, fat cars for our big, fat nation.