Tag: books

Adventures In Two Rooms

Having grown up in the 1950s and ’60s I often am amazed at all the parts of everyday life that we didn’t even imagine when I was a wee bairn.

First, we didn’t say “Under God” when we pledged allegiance to the flag (it took me most of the year to remember where that phrase was supposed to be inserted into the pledge) and there were no West Coast baseball teams. Speaking of baseball, we listened to the games on the radio (there was no television in our house) and since the World Series was restricted to day games more than a few guys had small crystal radios with an earplug to keep up with the score during penmanship exercises. No batteries required!

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Cures For Melancholy

Too Old To Read?

mufs088-b030-i740-001Obviously a stupid question: You’re Never Too Old To Read!!! However, the wear and tear on the aging body does make even small, everyday activities difficult, let alone reading.

Despite having a stroke almost twenty years ago, my brain still seems to be functioning with only the occasional brain fart or a deep dive into memory-loss. However, my eyes required over eighteen months of intense therapy before they could focus sufficiently to read or drive or get a spoonful of mashed potatoes into the center of my open mouth. Even today I find it easier to read with one eye closed.

Also, I need several tissues on hand since both my eyes dribble salty tears even though it’s not my party.

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Are Books Following You Around?

UCLABack in 1964 I packed my clothes in a small suitcase and my books and supplies in three orange crates (the cardboard ones with the full-fitting tops). Later that day my father dropped me off at the curb in front of the dormitory at the university and, because parking was forbidden, drove away leaving me to fend for myself in the big city. And it was only a day or two later that I realized that survival was the reality of the situation.

I had come up to the university a week or two early for the Freshman Orientation. I bunked with a guy from another part of the state that actually knew and revered my High School for its championship marching band (he was a Music major). But three days later the orientation was over, I was forced to move to another dormitory, and I realized I had more than a week to figure out how I was going to eat each day (food-service was not open yet) and whether I could withstand the terrors of Los Angeles. At least I had plenty of time to empty my three boxes of books and arrange them neatly on the built-in bookshelves.

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Bleak, Bleak, Bleak

On the BeachWhen I was a senior in High School I openly complained that too much of what I read was depressing. I had just finished Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield. If you recall, this novel presents a family that is beset by one disappointment after every disaster … but despite the hardships of life, Dr. Primrose keeps smiling and always expects to find a magic hedgehog nibbling candy-corn alongside the cotton-candy privet.

Of course, I grew up and gained an adult appreciation on life which allowed me to read these depressing books, often with far less angst than I experienced reading some pink and purple happy-shit. Besides, even the most embarrassing writing school will admit that a good story involves conflict and overcoming adversity. Let’s face it, even when the final outcome is positive, most of a depressing story is a downer. I remember reading Robert Ludlum: no matter how many times the hero escapes capture or death, another squad of cleaners jumps him when the hero has barely caught his breath. Is this hot action or a depressing view of life?

Well, several sources have been publishing lists of depressing books. Abe Books calls their top ten BLEAK:

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