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Everybody’s Got To Be Someplace.

December 12, 2008

Bibliophile (noun): a person who loves or collects books, esp. as examples of fine or unusual printing, binding, or the like.

The semester is over – all except the fanfare. I still need to post grades, but I plan on doing that shortly after I finish writing this. All in all, the semester turned out ok. Most of my students came through and many of them came through as better writers. My issues with departmental politics are increasingly distracting; and while I am not taking this space to discuss those things, suffice it to say, I am tired of being silent when I should speak, and I am through with sitting on my hands.  Stay tuned for developments. If you’re in higher education yourself, here’s a word of advice: unless you’re tenure-track, watch your ass in this recession.  Contract faculty and adjunct positions are not safe when administrators have their eyes focused on the bottom line instead of student progress – regardless of their dependence on these positions.

With the end of the semester comes an urge to reflect, summarize, and reorganize. I’m not sure where this urge for closure comes from, since there isn’t really any closure at all. The term is over, but there’s another one coming up in a month or so. And, in my case, I am preparing to facilitate an online ENG 102 over the three week winter intersession.  One of the things that’s been on my mind – which is likely fueled by my concerns about my future at ASU in light of the recession—is how much stuff the missus and I have managed to accumulate in our time here. It’s true that we didn’t bring a lot with us. Most of our things are in a storage room in Cincinnati (the symbolic power of that storage room always comes to mind when I pay the rent); but we have managed to accrue a fair amount of stuff here, including furniture, dishware, movies, CD’s and, of course books.

I love books. I could state this again to emphasize the point, but no matter how many times I stated it, I could not quite articulate the power with which I mean it. I love books.  I love to read books, which shouldn’t be any surprise. Beyond reading them, however, I love the mere presence of books. Having them around me is like having a warm blanket on a cold morning. It’s a comfort that comes from someplace deep in me – from that place where I know that I will never be alone so long as I have books and the voices they represent near me. At various times in my life, books replaced human company, and except for the fact that a book can’t walk for itself, I hardly noticed.  I love books. I obsess over books and authors. Two summers ago I read everything my Haruki Murakami that I could get a hold of; this past summer I rediscovered my love of crime and detective fiction.  Lately, I’m getting back to my poetic roots and reading Neruda, Paz,  Berry, Thomas, Yeats, and Wallace. I love the lines; I love the feel of the pages under my finger tips; I love the smell of a new book; I love the smell of a used paperback. 

For the epigram of this blog entry, I am using the definition for the word bibliophile. I do this only to point out a distinction. I am not a bibliophile, although, if I had the money, I probably would be, as there are things about printing, binding, and the history of publication that absolutely fascinates me. No, a bibliophile is a very different creature. They are creatures of high culture and they love books as commodity and history. No, this is not me. I am far worse. I am a hoarder of books.  I read books because I love the words, but I horde them because I am comforted by their presence. Before moving to Arizona, I had to go through the painful process of deciding what books to bring and what books to leave in storage. It was not easy, since I am as familiar with my books as a baseball fan is with the stats of their favorite team. Sometimes I sit here in Arizona and think about a book – maybe one I’d like to pick up and read again, or simply peruse – only to remember that it’s buried in storage. Such frustration. Why didn’t I think to pack that book? Why didn’t I think that book was important? Oh well, I tell myself. Nothing to be done.

There is a very real possibility that I will either be in an MFA program or that I won’t have a job here at ASU.  And, if my job evaporates, I have no real desire to stay here. I’ve mentioned this to my wife, and her only response is “Where do you want to go?” I have no answers for that, actually… if only because place is increasingly less important to me.  If we do end up having to endure a major move, we can either rent a truck or get rid of most of our stuff. I am inclined to do the latter, simply because gas, while the price has dropped, is still a large expense, and because, ultimately, I’d rather set fire to most of our stuff than to move it.

This brings me to a very real problem: my books. What should I do about my books? This question, along with the timing, leads me to think that I should consider how to thin out my volumes. Who to keep? Who to get rid of? It makes my head spin, just thinking about it.

About a year ago, I went through my books and made a list of 10 writers I couldn’t live without.  I’ve since decided though, that I need to be more specific about not only why certain authors are important to me, but particular books as well. So, for the next several weeks, I will blogs about books in each of three categories:

1.       Archetypes: writers whose works are, in my opinion, foundational to my development as a writer.

2.       Writers I Know and Respect: Friends whose work I admire.

3.       Writers of Influence: Writers whose work has influenced me directly.


There will be no more than writers and five books in each category. It is my hope that while there are writers I like that may be left off these lists, that I will be able explain my reasons completely and adequately.  And while this seems like a pleasant preoccupation during the break (which, on one level, it is a pleasure to write about writers I love and admire) it is also a little painful… because if we DO end up having to move, then it is these writers and these writers only that I’ll be carrying with me. The rest of my books will probably end up being donated to the Tempe Public Library for their used book sale, or sold off at Bookman’s.


Feel free to comment and mention your favorite books and writers.


More next week….

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2008 6:14 pm

    I hope you don’t have to sell any of our books…that makes me sad. We are packing for Florida. I think my book will be in print by next month, I am hoping. Thanks for your words, they are quite beautiful. You are a great writer! Merry Christmas,

  2. lost-n-thot permalink
    June 10, 2009 11:49 am

    Ok, you are a freakin genius. that is so true! but i think someone out there should deffinatly start a store that only sells books from new authors. i know i’d be a frequent visitor because i for one am very tired of all this series shit like twilight. no offense to the author but it is athiest, pointless and all around over-rated. more middle schoolers have read that book than johnny depp has done drugs. (no offence to depp. hes one of my fav actors) but honestly, whats so great about a traitor blood sucking vampire? nothing. i would rather spend my time reading ted dekker or stephen king. those are real books :) sooo basicly to sum all that up.. UR A MASTER MIND! just change ur pic bc u look like a creeper :)

  3. lost-n-thot permalink
    June 11, 2009 5:25 pm

    the comment before this was supposed to be on its hard not to be a poser post but im new at this so it got skrewd up and put on the wrong one :)

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