I am obsessed with books. Not always what is on the inside of books, I love the book and what it symbolizes. Learning, knowledge, answers.
I literally have hundreds, maybe thousands – stacked on shelves and in corners around my house. They are each special to me even if I was not impressed with the text. I am particularly protective of them – very rarely loaning them out.
They represent something new I have learned – as small as a new word or interesting historical fact that can be retrieved at just the right moment. More importantly, each reminds me of a quiet afternoon when I became acquainted with its pages.
Everything one could possibly need to know can be found in a book – if you just look in the right one. (Honestly, my head is so filled with useless knowledge that it will burble out occasionally and frighten whomever I am speaking.)
Last weekend, I made my first trip to Turnrow Books in Greenwood. It is a magical little place that specializes in Southern and Mississippi literature. My favorite part? Tiny handwritten notes from the staff sticking out of various books recommending the work. You don’t get that kind of service from a chain bookstore.
Like Sophie’s Choice, I had to choose one book. I picked Southern Fried Farce, a collection of Southern humor (Other writers making fun of their families as well, I am sure). Yet, there were so many that were begging to find a home.
I will just have to get Mrs. Bootsie Weed at the Winona Public Library to hunt them down for me. The only problem with library books is returning them; I always have a late fee.
Of course like any avid reader, I have my favorite books that I read again and again and never bore. John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces is probably my favorite book ever written. I actually named my cat (dearly-departed) after the main character, Ignatius J. Riley. Ignatius the Cat was much like Ignatius the character – both belching, lazy mounds of blubber and hot air.
Even after a dozen re-reads, I still laugh out loud over Ignatius and his “pyloric valve” issues and Patrolman Mancuso (Ignatius’ nemesis) and his “disguises” (Groucho Marx fake glasses, nose, and mustache certainly do not create effective aliases.) If you haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it.
Jane Eyre is another of my favorite works of literature. I was quite distressed when I was told this book was currently not a staple in high school literature classes. The classic Victorian romantic novel – I am still madly in love with Mr. Rochester, and although he is fiction, I still pine for him. Alas, the only way to find a man like that is to make him up.
I do have more contemporary favorites: Dust Tracks on the Road by Zora Neale Hurston (the writer’s autobiography), Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (disturbing but beautiful), Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons by Lorna Landvik (it is a lot more than chick lit), Jubilee by Margaret Walker (get the tissue), A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (absolutely hysterical), Queen of the Turtle Derby by Julia Reed (coined my favorite phrase “There were only two perfect men. One died on the cross and the other surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse.”). There are just too many to list.
One Spanish proverb said, “Books are hindrances to persisting stupidity.” I don’t know about all of that – I ooze with stupidity most days. However, I do relate to something I saw on a t-shirt once: “Lead me not into temptation or into bookstores.”