Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Bookshelf

I think I have one of the strangest bookshelves. Here are some of the titles I currently find staring at me:

Scams, Shams, and Flimflams: A History of Hoax
The Boy Scout Handbook (1962 edition)
The Oxford English Dictionary
Classic Sitcoms
East, West by Salman Rushdie
George Orwell: A Collection of Essays
The Classic Fairy Tales
Conspiracies and Cover-Ups
A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A General Theory of Love
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Presidential Anecdotes
Crime and Punishment
Unexplained Phenomenon
The Lives of Great Composers
Central Middle School Yearbooks 1997
Computers Simplified
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess
The Encyclopedia of World War II
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The Radicalism of the American Revolution
Faster Reading - Self-Taught (this is a 500 page book from 1979)
Players of Cooperstown: Baseball's Hall of Fame
The Comedy Thesaurus
The Three Theban Plays, Sophocles
A Window on Williamsburg
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. II
Human Genetics
The Vital Guide to Fighting Aircraft of World War II
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Roughing it, Mark Twain
Shogun, James Clavell
several World Almanacs
Surfacing, Margaret Atwood
The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary
Vindication, Lyndall Gordon, biography of Mary Wollstonecraft
MLA Handbook
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
Intermediate Japanese for Advanced Speakers and Late Beginners (OK, I made up the last six words)
Mythology, Edith Hamilton
The Magic Handbook
Pride and Prejudice
The Worst Case Survival Handbook: First and College Editions, I also see Travel up there
Snow White, Blood Red
A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
The Shadow Lines, Amitav Ghosh
Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee

My interests are whimsical and ridiculous. Far from being widely-read, I find myself to be increasingly narrowly-written. Caught on the Bound interns are picking that phrase apart.

Some of these titles don't even make sense to me. I don't even know anything about baseball or Cooperstown. And I'm pretty sure that Computers Simplified book comes from 1989, which would explain the title. That old Boy Scout Handbook is quite amusing. An excerpt:

"So keep your mouth shut and the passage through your nose clear. Always blow your nose gently and one nostril at a time, never both together. If you have trouble breathing through your nose, let a doctor take a look at it."

Yes, not being able to breath is one of the tell-tale symptoms of.....uh....death. I can imagine some irate scoutmaster shouting at those Tenderfoots trying to blow both nostrils at once. "You'll never make Eagle, Smith! You were a Tenderfoot yesterday and you'll be a Tenderfoot tomorrow!"

Another excerpt, from the inevitably hilarious "From Boy to Man" section:

"There are boys who do not let nature have its own way with them but cause emissions themselves. This may do no physical harm, but may cause them to worry. Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome. If anything like this worries you, this is not unusual - just about all boys have the same problem. Seek the correct answer to any question which bothers you about your development from boy to man. But be sure to get your information from reliable sources - your parents, your physician, your spiritual advisor."

Yes, I suppose there is a lesson to be learned. Little Johnny took nature into his own hands and now he is worried! I like the vagueness of "worry" but I think a better word might be "guilt-ridden" or "dirty dirty filth" or "happy." What do they do if there is physical harm? I believe the answer to that is also "worry." We also know that "any real boy" knows to avoid worrying. Don't let those fake or imitation boys fool you.

I have a question about my development from boy to man: What was this whole paragraph about? Worrying about "emissions"? Sounds like a concern for the EPA or NASA.

I think I might make excerpts from this old Boy Scout Handbook a regular thing.