Book shelves series #36, thirty-sixth Sunday of 2012
Continuing the corner book shelf in the family room.
The bookends are tschotskes from a ¥100 shop; we bought them years ago in Tokyo.
Not particularly fancy but they have a sentimental value. (The big guy is a tanuki, if you’re unfamiliar).
The tin on the far left is filled with miscellaneous papers, old stickers, other small bricabrac.
Only four books on this shelf—the more-or-less complete works of J.D. Salinger, in gloriously ratty mass paperback editions:
Not sure if these are my wife’s or mine—probably a mix of both. I stole most of these from my high school.
The Catcher in the Rye was as important to me as any other book, I suppose. I wrote about it here.
Nine Stories contains some of Salinger’s most disciplined stuff.
It took me years to finally find the discipline to read Seymour, which is probably the best thing he wrote.
Book shelves series #34, thirty-fourth Sunday of 2012
A little end table next to the couch in our family room.
The books on top are little art books we keep out for the kids to look at, including People—
On the second shelf, along with a cooking magazine: The People Could Fly and Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons:
There are two drawers; one holds electronic manuals. The second holds McSweeney’s #33, the newspaper issue, which was pretty damn unwieldy:
A comic from the McSweeney’s by Michael Kupperman:
Book shelves series #31, thirty-first Sunday of 2012
When I started this project I thought it would be a fun way to keep stock of the books that I have, and also a way to perhaps question why I hold on to the books that I hold on to.
I mean, why keep a book after you’ve read it?
Anyway, at times throughout this series I’ve gotten bored, or rushed; other times I’ve thought the idea was stupid, or narcissistic, or something even worse (although I don’t know what).
I like the shelves above the pedestrian, utilitarian jobber that I’ll feature this Sunday and the next: lots of aesthetically pleasing stuff there.
Not so this one, which holds photos and cookbooks and art books and old notebooks and sketchbooks and every kind of etcetera:
At least that’s what I thought until I started digging into the cramped top shelf, dutifully bound to this project.
I wound up really enjoying myself, pausing over volumes that I haven’t looked at in ages, like this beauty:
I’m not sure if the aesthetic joy of this postcard collection comes across in these lousy iPhone photo shots.
I got this on a trip to London when I was 11. It was just my mom and my brother and I. First we went to Singapore. We were coming back to the States for Christmas, and also to live, eventually. My brother broke his leg in Singapore jumping down some stairs and we didn’t realize it was broken until we got back to Florida.
I used to draw and paint all the time, especially as a kid. Mostly animals.
There are at least a dozen skinny books like this on the shelf:
I must have done hundreds of these as a kid:
The shelf is also full of old comic strip collections that you probably recognize, like these guys:
And this guy (and yes, I have the 7″ record from this collection)
I also spent half an hour revising Rublowsky’s 1965 volume Pop Art, which is kind of fascinating in its contemporary proximity to its subject.
The cover’s not interesting, but Ken Heyman’s photos are; they show the artists in process. This one is kinda famous:
And here’s Roy Lichtenstein:
Book shelves series #30, thirtieth Sunday of 2012
Lots of publication series editions here, including this batch of Melville House Art of the Contemporary Novella:
I reviewed most of these and they’re all very good—especially Sandokan.
Some ratty ratty Penguin Classics that I procured from various institutions I won’t name here. The Mallory was a particular obsession for a few years:
The Rousseau Coloring Book was a gift from a friend to our daughter, but I stole it and put it up here.
I reviewed all of Picador’s BIG IDEAS // small books series; I actually got a new one, Privacy, in the mail the other day. Violence and Humiliation are particularly good.
Next to those: various World of Art series books, most of them my wife’s. (Bonus points if you guess mine correctly):
I have no idea why these books are grouped here like this; I’m guessing they were all in the same box when we moved. I know we have multiple copies of several of these:
There’s a basket with a Klee book and some mini umbrellas and other stuff, not pictured, and then this lot on the end, including to “Introducing” books that are remainders from my freshman year of college; they are terrible and I should get rid of them. I stole this edition of The Stranger from my high school in the 10th or 11th grade. The Chronicles of Narnia box set was a gift from my aunt when I was like seven or eight:
I’ve been wanting to get my mitts on this Fletcher Hanks collection since I first read about it in The Believer five years ago. Finally came across a used copy in pristine shape.
It’s really, really fucking weird. Sample page; full write-up forthcoming:
I’ve been itching to read Gilbert Sorrentino’s Mulligan Stew for a while. This copy may or may not be a first edition paperback—the rejection letters in the front are on a different type of paper than the rest of the novel (color/stock). It’s a big book—I’m finishing up a rereading of 2666, so maybe this one will jump in front of Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual. Thoughts?
From Italo Calvino’s The Uses of Literature—
- The classics are the books of which we usually hear people say, “I am rereading . . . ” and never “I am reading . . . “
- We use the words “classics” for books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them
- The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious.
- Every rereading of a classic is as much a voyage of discovery as the first reading.
- Every reading of a classic is in fact a rereading.
- A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
- The classics are the books that come down to us bearing the traces of readings previous to ours, and bringing in their wake the traces they themselves have left on the culture or cultures they have passed through (or, more simply, on language and customs).
- A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives much pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity.
- The classics are books which, upon reading, we find even fresher, more unexpected, and more marvelous than we had thought from hearing about them.
- We use the word “classic” of a book that takes the form of an equivalent to the universe, on a level with the ancient talismans. With this definition we are approaching the idea of the “total book,” as Mallarmé conceived of it.
- Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.
- A classic is a book that comes before other classics; but anyone who has read the others first, and then reads this one, instantly recognizes its place in the family tree.
- A classic is something that tends to relegate the concerns of the moment to the status of background noise, but at the same time this background noise is something we cannot do without.
- A classic is something that persists as a background noise even when the most incompatible momentary concerns are in control of the situation.
Book shelves series #27, twenty-seventh Sunday of 2012
There are 27 Sundays in 2012, so today’s post is the half way mark for this series, I guess.
This is an obscure little shelf on the side of a piece of furniture that holds the TV in our den. These are travel books, phrase books, etc., which I’m not sure if people still buy—I mean, I don’t buy them anymore, at least not if I’m going to go somewhere. I use the internet, or iPhone apps. Maybe I need to go to some place without 3G or wireless coverage.
There are some other relics here, too, on the shelf above this one—CDs and DVDs.