Pick a Book, Any Book; Now Be It

By Bob Gaydos

Recent reading ...

Recent reading …

Remember books? You know, lots and lots of words on paper strung together in some sort of sensible, occasionally poetic, way to tell a story. No pop-up ads. Not textbooks. Book books.

I’ve been acutely aware of synchronicity in my life of late and books have played a part in it. Let me admit straight up here and now that my relationship with books had grown cool in recent years. Not a complete break, but sporadic at best. Technology lured me away.

Recently, though, life hit me head-on, leaving me mostly immobile and homebound. No TV. After a while, even I-phones and laptops lose their charm. I picked up a book: “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” by Tom Wolfe. Here’s some synchronicity: The only reason I had this book in my possession is that I had just finished reading Wolfe’s “Hooking Up,” which was one of several I picked up at the library’s used book store because my son, Max, said he was looking for something to read. “Hooking Up’’ reminded me that I liked Wolfe back when he was writing for the New York Herald Tribune. I also liked his “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

So I went back to the library and found “Electric, etc.” and “A Man in Full,” which I just finished and whose main character is an older gent recovering from knee surgery, like me.

I’m good on Wolfe for a while. Now, I’m reading “Contact,” by Carl Sagan, which I also found at the library store. I started thinking about my most recent choices in books and was thinking about asking friends for recommendations for some more recent books they found worthwhile.

Then, synchronistically, a Facebook friend in Seattle, Jim Bridges. posted an item informing me it was National Book Week. There were rules about finding a sentence from the book closest to you and posting it without telling the title of the book. So I did. Something from “Contact.” I also realized that Jim had just reminded me that, not too long ago, Facebook was regarded as social media, a place where people shared such information with friends as what they had for dinner and what book they were reading.

As far as I know, no one responded to my Book Week post. They probably thought it had something to do with, yes, politics. That’s just not right. Not long ago, when I started writing a blog for the Internet, friends routinely participated in discussions of whatever the topic was. Now, I feel a sense of frustration and fatigue on Facebook, which has become highly politically charged.

And so, I’m writing about books. Pay attention. I’m still looking for something to read after “Contact,” which I’m enjoying. As I said, my most recent reading — the past 18 months or so — has consisted of nothing new. Actually, nothing from this century:

“Slaughterhouse Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut; “A Prairie Home Companion,’” by Garrison Keillor; “1984,” by George Orwell (I had a suspicion.); “Hooking Up,” “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” and “A Man in Full,” by Tom Wolfe; and the current, “Awareness,” by Anthony De Mello and “Contact,” by Carl Sagan. Vonnegut and Orwell I read on Kindle, the rest on paper. I’m partial to paper, but not fanatical.

I would really like to know what you’re reading or have read recently that you would recommend. I plan to share the information in future columns, the way we used to do a while back. I’m also going to post it on Facebook and elsewhere at least often enough for friends to notice and have an opportunity to reply. You know, socially.

I have one other book-related item to share. My partner and I recently watched “Fahrenheit 453,” the 1966 movie version of Ray Bradbury’s futuristic tale of a society that burns books. (Again, I had a suspicion.) In the film, Julie Christie and other members of the secret resistance to the ban on books live together in a secluded community. Each member picks a favorite book and memorizes it so that the words will never be forgotten. The title of the book becomes their name. “Wuthering Heights,” meet “David Copperfield,” for example. They spend their days reciting themselves to each other and pass the books on to younger members before passing on. A living library.

So, friends, if you were a book, who would you be? I’m going with “Catch-22” for now. Joseph Heller. Please join me. Let’s be social again, at least until the impeachment.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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15 Responses to “Pick a Book, Any Book; Now Be It”

  1. Richard Bennett Says:

    Earth in Human Hands-David Grinspoon.

    Beyond Pleasure and Pain-E. Tory Higgins,

    Computer Power and Human Reason-Joseph Weizenbaum

  2. Jo Cicale Says:

    Hi Bob, after raising two kids I couldn’t wait to get back to reading uninterrupted. Always been a book lover. Then my kids gifted me a Kindle because of worsening arthritis and I love my Kindle.

    What am I reading or what have I read? All the Light We Cannot See was among the best of the best. Just finished a Gentleman in Moscow and that is a wow! Geez wish I could remember the name of the book about Alfred the alligator. It was such a fun read. Need laughs and fun don’t we. And I so agree about FB; it’s lost its charm. Sad!

  3. BobGaydos Says:

    Patricia Campbell on Facebook: Ok I will start 🙂 this is where I am right now, I am reading the two latest James Patterson – Alex Cross, “I Alex Cross” and “kill Alex Cross” 🙂
    IF I COULD BE a book….it would have to be: Bastard out of Carolina :-)- This is a gritty look at child abuse and neglect, I could not put it down and so I didn’t lol

  4. BobGaydos Says:

    Toni Macaroni on Facebook: Just finished God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. I found it quite amazing. Quick read.

  5. BobGaydos Says:

    Patricia Campbell: Loved that! All Toni Morrison

  6. BobGaydos Says:

    Toni Macaroni: I had no idea but I was quite moved by this book.

  7. BobGaydos Says:

    Linda D’Amato Hayes · Friends with Jim Bridges on Facebook:
    Currently reading “Alvin York A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano, and “Angels of the Underground, the American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Phillipines in WWII” by Theresa Kaminski.

  8. Mikhail Horowitz Says:

    I am currently reading Shelby Foote’s 14-volume history of the Civil War. Mostly because a) he’s a wonderful storyteller; b) the parallels between the 1860s and the 1960s (my student activist days) are so uncanny; and c) during the recent presidential campaign it became obvious that half this country is still fighting the Civil War.

    I thought I already WAS a book, but if I had to pick another book — actually, two books — to be, they would be a first edition copy of the 2050 Baseball Encyclopedia, and a translation of Finnegans Wake into Mandarin.

  9. Jason Harris Says:

    I’m currently reading two books. One I read to keep my mind occupied and is the height of Space Opera from the Black Press called Mechanicum and is part of a series called the Horus Heresy. The second I read in an attempt to better my soul and that’s Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich That Hanh

    As for politics, it is the poison in our collective bloodstream and I’ve done my level best to leave it alone in my social interactions. There are so many other wondrous things we can discuss and share. Thank you for sparking that sort of interaction.

  10. Mary Makofske Says:

    Am reading 535 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity by Charles Lewis (and this BEFORE the ascension of Trump). Also some older novels, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach (surprising how relevant they still are–Ecotopia is comprised of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, which seceded). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The Harvest Gypsies, nonfiction by John Steinbeck (led to The Grapes of Wrath). Methland by Nick Reding was an eye-opener. How to Be Alive by Colin Beavan didn’t contain much new for me but was a timely reminder. Wow, I’ve been reading a lot. Thanks for asking, Bob. I always like to see what others have discovered.

  11. Anita Page Says:

    Dark Money by Jane Mayer This book about the role the Koch brothers play in American politics is alarming but worth reading.

    Selected Stories by William Trevor 48 stories by one of the best short story writers of our time–Irish, of course. There’s something in that gene pool.

    The collected works of Mo Willems (to be read aloud to grandkids). He’s terrific and very funny, which is helpful these days.

  12. BobGaydos Says:

    Idrea Ramaci: “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle. Already have it almost memorized, as I’ve read it so many times.?

  13. BobGaydos Says:

    Jim Bridges on Facebook: Unfortunately, I do not read books much at all. Ever since I developed cataracts my enjoyment of reading declined. Though my lenses have been replaced, reading is no longer enjoyable to me. The last book I read was Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarcertation in an Age of Colorblindness.” What book would I like to be – gosh, I immediately thought of one of Dostoyevski’s novels, perhaps The Brothers’ Karamazov. Not sure why…but ever since high school I have liked his writing.

  14. BobGaydos Says:

    Christine Marsh-Rijssenbeek, on Facebook: Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul. “Humour, grace, and sensitivity.” His writing is sublime.

    And if I were a book – The Kon Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl because I feel as if I’m always floating in the middle of an ocean.

  15. BobGaydos Says:

    Wise woman (obviously a nom de plume) on RSN: Well you did ask. So here’s what I’m recommending according to the info you provided. Since you didn’t list a woman author, I suggest “Woman As Healer,” by Jeanne Achterberg. Then Deepak Chopra, “Perfect Health.” To round out some history you might not be familiar with, “Remembering Hypatia,” by Brian Trent. I met Brian years ago when he was a very young man and his book had just been published. I was highly impressed by his quiet intelligence and determination to tell a story that definitely needs to be told. These, if you should care to read them, will keep you busy for a while. Because of a protracted illness, I have been confined to my Kindle which has been a blessing since books are too heavy to read in bed. I wish you good health and success in sharing your experiences.

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