The Books Around You

SnakArt is Life

Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg

The Books Around You

Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.

aug 15, 2007, 6:38 pm

This question is sheer curiosity. What books do you have immediately around you where you sit at your computer?

There is a wall of bookcases next to me. I imagine a lot of you have something similar or possibly a whole room full of bookcases. I see The Great Books of the Western World, the Encyclopedia Britannica, a shelf of books on tai chi ch'uan and other martial arts, a shelf of fantasy and science fiction. Other books scattered around are Shakespeare's Lives, The Alexandria Quartet, Deathhouse Gates, Chin P'ing Mei and Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature.

The book on the table beside me, that I am reading now, is The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci.

As I said this is sheer curiosity. Besides I do like knowing what others are reading. I get tips on future reading.

aug 15, 2007, 8:38 pm

I am on my back porch with my laptop computer. I spend most of my time here.

I started in Library Thing by cataloging the few hundred books within arms reach -- most of my music books, a bunch books I had shelved in no order, and two big inchoate piles on the floor. The test went well, so I cataloged the rest of the porch, mostly without order but including Bibles and other religious volumes and a good many of my few books on certain decades of the last century. I had about 800 books cataloged.

Having decided I was into this, I went and cleaned the books out of my car (there are still a couple of cartons of Harvard Classics there) which amounted to about a hundred books.

Then I went into my kitchen. It had books of its own plus a bunch of books that had gone in from the porch when it was reroofed recently. I haven't done the cookbooks yet, about five shelves.

I skipped the dining room because the books are too hard to get at and started on the living room with the accessible books.

Meanwhile, as new books arrive, if they don't have a place inside to go to, they settle on the porch, and I catalog them as they arrive.

So I have most of the books I have cataloged (1728 at the moment) within easy reach, albeit some in stacks that would take awhile to get to the bottom of.

That is fun.


aug 15, 2007, 10:50 pm

My computer is on small desk next to bed. Closest books are in the bed's headboard: 5 by Oliver Sacks (inherited from dear friend, waiting to be re-read); "The Whore's Child," by Richard Russo and "The Last Gift of Time" by Caroline Heilbronner (gifts from friend in Oregon). Also, migrated from living room shelves: G. Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals" and Philip Roth, "The Plot Against America." Strange bedfellows indeed!! Esta1923

aug 15, 2007, 11:10 pm

I just got in the mail a collection of poems, Fallen Prose by Steven Schroeder who is a member of this group! It is right here by my computer. Also Kokoschka and Alma Mahler a book I ordered after discussions with LTer, Miriam. Also books in preparation for teaching, which starts next week: Axel's Castle and the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry and The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Oh, and The Wind in the Willows is here, too (smile).

aug 15, 2007, 11:14 pm

My computer is located next to a book shelf. Two of them actually. One is loaded with several hundred (unread) paperback books. The other bookshelf is loaded with books that I have read, but will not get rid of.

Karin Slaughter's Beyond Reach was just recently added to the shelf.

aug 15, 2007, 11:35 pm

Redigeret: aug 16, 2007, 8:25 pm

Surrounded by books from one end of the apartment to the other... ;) At hand, just finished, is In a Dybbuk's Raincoat, a wonderful collection of poems by Bert Meyers, just published by the University of New Mexico Press. Others close at hand are Space and Place, by Yi Fu Tuan; Wittgenstein's Ladder, by Marjorie Perloff; For the Birds, by John Cage; The Republic of Wine, by Mo Yan; and a lovely collection of poetry and photography called Between Heaven and Texas...

Redigeret: aug 16, 2007, 10:30 pm

In my work office I'm surrounded (insulated?) by books. Right over top of my computer station are two shelves of the magazines and anthologies I've appeared in and above that (to keep me humble) an assortment of offerings by some of the best writers who ever put pen to paper (Joyce, Beckett, Golding). On three walls of the office, more bookshelves and teetering stacks of books waiting to be read (some with a substantial coating of dust on them). Above my actual writing desk, however, in one corner of the small office, no books, just a poster, a bulletin board and some of my wife's artwork. No intention to this layout but, unconsciously, that was the way everything had to look. Crowded everywhere else except where I actually bang out first drafts. It's like I didn't want any interference or cross-pollination. Books are a source or comfort but volumes by Joyce and Shakespeare also remind me that my predecessors have set the bar awfully high and if I want to achieve anything with my writing, I'm going to have to work bloody hard.

Which reminds me, I'd better get back at it. Nice to be able to pop in for a visit. Good posting...

aug 16, 2007, 10:45 pm

Well, the books neares the computer include a small stack on the floor. One book is a cataloging problem. Half English/Half French. You look at the 'front' -- it is in 'English' -- you flip it over, and now you have the other 'front' -- it is in French. A couple of travel books that might back into the shelf in this room with other guidebooks, except, they are from AAA, and I'm not sure that I want to keep the, and if I do, I will 'relegate' them someplace else. Our smaller size cat books are on one shelf in here plus lots of of odds and ends. Then I have an English-Dari phrase book which I temporarily used as a bookmark for a Greek-English lexicon, but I've forgotten my query. Then there is Landscape Painted with Tea whhich needs to be returned to its brother in the living room, Dictionary of the Khazars, but it hasn't made it back yet. A history of the former semi-rural street car lines that served the the town (Stow) in Massachesetts where my folks live. So, a real melange.

aug 16, 2007, 11:21 pm

On the table in front of me I have three Harry Potter books which belong to my wife, I'm just not interested in them. I have My Country Right or Left by George Orwell, The quiet American by Graham Greene who I just absolutely love. I also have an Interlinear Greek/English New Testament which I use for theological work.

Behind me I have a bookshelf with 150 or so books ranging from Ambrose Bierce to Flaubert, from Dostoevsky to Zola and beyond. I prefer new non-fiction, except travel literature - any kind, age, or country will do, and the 19th century through the 1930's literary fiction. While I like Steinbeck a lot, I don't care for Hemingway at all.

I read in another room. The books I have next to my reading chair are The Secret of Hurricanes by Theresa Williams, Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, Passage Through Armageddon by W. Bruce Lincoln and Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

Even though I may have several books going, I am generally a serial reader. I read my books like a palimpsest, but from tyhe inside out. Last in, first out. This requires that I be careful which books I select and when.

Redigeret: aug 17, 2007, 4:00 am

Closest to me is The Secret of Hurricanes, because I was just referring to the boy-and-the-loom scene to say how much I liked it in my other post. Confess, Theresa, it must have occurred to you that some of us might read your book - and it was exceptionally cunning of you not to mention it, so that we would all be unbearably curious. ;-) It is good.

In the cubbies built into my desk, I have Roget's Thesaurus, The Chicago Manual of Style, Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes, an old American Heritage Dictionary, The New Cassell's German Dictionary, a pair of Hungarian-English dictionaries (for some weird reason, Hungarian-English dictionaries come in pairs because the Hungarian-to-English part is bound separately from the English-to-Hungarian part), a Hungarian grammar, and on the top shelf of the desk, The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

On the floor behind my chair are four stacks:

In the first stack are two astrology books, Stephen Arroyo's Chart Interpretation Handbook and Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller.

In the second stack are four books I've been consulting for the article I'm writing about Tielman Susato: Diarmaid MacCulloch's The Reformation: A History, Tielman Susato and the Music of His Time, Antwerp in the Age of Reformation, Antwerp in the Age of Plantin and Brueghel, and The Early Vasas: A History of Sweden, 1523-1611.

In the third are four more books for the article: Volume 2 of The Growth of the Antwerp Market and the European Economy, The Renaissance edited by Iain Fenlon, Flemish Cities: Their History and Art and Albrecht Dürer: Diary of His Journey to the Netherlands. The last is exceptionally wonderful because it has a big section of the paintings and drawings he did while he was there. The man could really do faces - looking at his drawings is like meeting some of these people in the flesh.

The fourth stack is of books I'm consulting for a potential future article: Erik Routley's The English Carol and Phillips' Carols: Their Origin, Music, and Connection with Mystery-Plays.

Finally, among the papers and general miscellany on the table next to my desk is Robert Hand's Horoscope Symbols and Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo's Eat Right 4 Your Type.

Whew! I won't list what's in the two bookcases on the wall behind me.

Doctor Zhivago is in the stack of books on the bedside table in the other room.

aug 17, 2007, 4:05 am

I suppose I oughtn't to be surprised to discover I'm not the only one who has books on the floor!

aug 17, 2007, 4:11 am

#10 geneg and #11 margad: I am thankful to both of you for reading my book. People here at LT have been so curious and so kind. I'm a bit overwhelmed. When HURRICANES first came out, it didn't cause a stir. My local bookstores were not even interested in carrying it. I have kept a blog for three years. Hundreds of people have read my blog, but just a handful of people bothered to read HURRICANES. There are so many books in the world, so little time, so little interest, really, in a little book like mine. I hoped someone here might read it, but I learned not to hope too much. You are both just so sweet beyond words. Thank you.

As for the other books people are reading now: I'm mightily impressed. I didn't read as much during the summer as I hoped I would. I wrote a lot, though, and read a lot in preparation for classes I will teach. Classes begin next week! Tomorrow is the first meeting of the year.

margad, the scene with the boy touching the loom: I can still remember struggling with that scene. It grew out of many days and weeks of trying. Another scene I struggled with is the one with Lydia and Cleopatra, where Lydia gives her sister the food in order to prolong the meal. Talk about crying; I cried when I wrote that. It was such a simple gesture of love. I thought about how easy it really is to show people we love them; but too often we don't.

Thank you to you both for your interest. I mean that. From my heart's bottom, I thank you. I do, I do.

People at LT are the best!

aug 17, 2007, 10:20 am

One of the reasons I stay away from modern fiction (except certain mystery/adventure, specifically Preston/Child) is because it's just boring to me. I couldn't finish Five People you meet in Heaven, I ground my teeth so hard at The lovely Bones my dentist was getting worried. To be honest, I expected pretty much the same from The Secret of Hurricanes, but I am just blown away by it. If all current fiction was so well crafted, so evocative of a place and time, even if I wasn't familiar with it, it would be much more enjoyable. Of course the absolute eroticism of Pearl is just explosive. So far, this may well be the best book I've read so far this year. I can't believe there was no buzz around this book. I'm sure going to buzz about it.

aug 17, 2007, 1:27 pm

#14 geneg: You are too much. No, there was no buzz, no fanfare, no appearances on Oprah or Book TV. Just a few readings. I didn't have an agent, and there was no big advertising budget set aside for the book. So basically nobody knows about it. This happens to a lot of first time authors.

The book changed my life in that it improved my situation at work. I still have hopes more people will read it; perhaps if I finish another book? My next novel is slow coming, but I have finished several short stories since Hurricanes came out.

The erotic undercurrent of Hurricanes was definitely intentional. I have struggled personally a lot of years trying to come to terms with my sexuality, what it means to be a sexual being. I think nothing says "life" as much as sex, and I've come to believe in sex as something sacred. If we are off kilter in our sexuality, we aren't whole.

I never tried to read Five People You Meet In Heaven, but I too had some issues with The Lovely Bones. I seem to be in the minority on that: interesting that you share my view. Maybe we can talk about that sometime.

When somebody asked Mark Rothko how long he'd worked on a certain painting, he said, "55 years." According to that wonderful logic, I worked on Hurricanes for 45 years. But it was 6 years of actual putting words on paper. Underneath my desk is a mountain of paper, all drafts and discarded ideas pertaining to that book. I will admit to being hurt when more people didn't read it, but I learned to put that behind me and contine to soldier on in my writing. But I have to admit, hearing you talk about it, geneg, makes me feel very, very good.

Redigeret: aug 17, 2007, 3:00 pm

Thank you, TheresaW, (If I may be allowed to take liberties with your name. It is I who thank you! I'm only sorry for those people who haven't read it. They are missing a real treat.

BTW, I just finished it not ten minutes ago, and after I let it simmer a little while. I am going to review it here.

Redigeret: aug 17, 2007, 3:10 pm

Directly in front of (in the shelves which are actually a part of my desk is a whole slew of BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS. Directly behind me close on the bottom shelves are two full shelves of ORIGAMI books. Above that are shelves of late 1800's and early 1900's pulp fiction and short story collections. The top shelves of that case are filled with nonfiction books ranging in topic from true crime to political, to science to social science. At my left on the bottom shelves is a mixed collection of nonfiction. Those shelve have books about artists (Marc Chagall, Van Gogh, Munch, and such), pictorial books about Ireland, Mythology, and others. Everywhere else is covered by thousands of fiction books. Literature, classics, mysteries, sci-fi, youth novels, horror, and just about anything else you can imagine.

The Bulk of my library is crammed around my computer desk in the loft. Most shelves are double shelved and or side stacked for greater storage. (A friend of mine once asked if the supports of the house could take all the weight in that one spot.)

aug 17, 2007, 4:58 pm

geneg: thank you and I shall look forward to your review. I said the book changed my situation at work; however the biggest change for me was internally. The book changed the way I see myself in relation to the world. In that sense, writing it was one of the best gifts I gave to myself. I thank my publisher MacAdam/Cage a thousand times for publishing it. They are great people to work with and I was happy they believed in me and in my book. It is such a treat to be able to converse with someone who has actually read it, especially someone like you, geneg (Gene) who really loves books. And, please, call me Theresa!

aug 17, 2007, 6:39 pm

Well, for better or worse, my review is posted here. Please keep in mind, the only review technique I ever learned it the book report. I tried to avoid any real spoilers in here, but let me know if I should amend it in some way.

aug 17, 2007, 9:38 pm

Gene, I left a message for you at your blog. Thank you, my friend. That is a generous and perceptive review.

21JMatthews Første besked:
aug 17, 2007, 10:54 pm

I keep a bookcase by my desk that holds copies I'm working on or have recently finished, but my desk has a little shelf where I keep some favorites I continually return to. Here's what they are:

Virgil's Aeneid
Dante's Inferno
Shakespeare's sonnets
Sidney's A Defense of Poetry
Aquinas' On Being and Essence
Kaufmann's Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre
The Selected Poetry of Rainer Marie Rilke
The Collected Poems of John Donne
The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke
The Selected Poems of John Crowe Ransom
The Collected Poems of Alexander Pope
Franz Wright's God's Silence
The Yeats Reader
William Matthews' Search Party
Charles Kennedy's An Anthology of Old English Poetry
and The Collected Works of Flannery O'Connor

Redigeret: aug 18, 2007, 1:50 am

Good review, Gene. Thanks for putting in the link. I enjoyed your other reviews as well and have added Bourdieu's Language & Symbolic Power to my to-be-read list.

23warrick1830 Første besked:
aug 18, 2007, 6:51 am

Right now, I'm parked on the sofa waiting for my tea kettle to hiss. Tea is the only thing that gets me to sleep these days. Near me are my copy of Poets & Writers and Mark Strand's Selected Poems. I find I get pleasant dreams involving pets (I live in an apartment that doesn't allow animals) when I read him before bed.

aug 18, 2007, 1:34 pm

warrick1830: Poets & Writers is a great magazine. And I love Strand. I'm sorry you can't have animals in your apartment; we have two dogs and seven cats. We live in the "country."

aug 19, 2007, 12:24 pm

"In a field I am the absence of field...." That from Mark Strand has been in my mind since I found it manymany years ago. I hope others will look at his work now that we've saluted him. Esta1923

aug 19, 2007, 12:52 pm

Esta, that line has always stuck with me too. When Strand is at his best, his poems are as flawless as a human can make a poem. A Blizzard of One is, like his Selected Poems, a fantastic read.

Redigeret: feb 14, 2008, 12:37 pm

The books I want to have nearest me are a dictionary, an almanac, and an atlas, all for reference.

feb 14, 2008, 3:28 pm

Ohh, an atlas. I just love atlases. I could look at maps until the cows come home.

feb 14, 2008, 3:52 pm

Depends on where I am -- I use a laptop at home and there are several places I end up. In the reading nook, where I often sit with laptop, I have an atlas and dictionary (right at my fingertips, I use them often when I'm so close) plus all my writing books, Thesaurus, reference, and rhyming dictionary. Though - I actually don't do much writing in that spot. (I also use the same references online when I'm not near my ref books.) In other places in the house or studio, I'm usually surrounded by novels.

Here in my cubicle at work I have a medical dictionary, a dictionary, thesaurus, medical and legal spellers, the Gregg Reference Manual, a Bill Moyers book, Healing and the Mind, The Power to Heal and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Plus whatever books I've brought with me for the commute and the lunch read.

Redigeret: feb 14, 2008, 7:02 pm

apr 4, 2008, 12:12 pm

within arm's reach:

webster's new world spanish dictionary

the new penguin book of english verse- of course i'll never read the whole thing. but its an amazing book.

another republic: 17 european and south american writers

art and nature: an illustrated anthology of nature poetry- i found this book at a used book store and though i thought it was going to be cheesy i bought it because it had really nice images from art at the metropolitan museum. actually its a very good anthology too.

the last three of these books i've picked from my shelves within the last year to quote something but still haven't put the back. its a process.

apr 5, 2008, 10:41 am

Ports of Entry: William Burroughs and the Arts, Robert A. Sobieszek
William Burroughs: A Portrait, Barry Miles
Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson
Walt Whitman, Jerome Loving
Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, Robert Richardson
Karl Jaspers, A Biography: Navigations in Truth, Suzanne Kirkbright
Searching for Robert Johnson, Peter Guralnick
The World Don't Owe Me Nothing, David Honeyboy Edwards
Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust
J. M. W. Turner, Ian Warrell
Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, Gail Levin
Miles: The Autobiography, Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe
The Elusive Presence, Samuel Terrien

These are the books scattered about my desk top as of this morning. Most of them are part of a current writing project. Over half of them will probably find their homes again on the shelf by Monday. My current reading is the Miles David Autobiography.

Redigeret: apr 6, 2008, 2:49 am

I've got 5 bookcases spanning 2 walls (floor-to-ceiling) in my office where I usually have my laptop, so it's hard to name all of them. Most of them fall under the genres of: Books about Books, Reference, Art, Paleontology, Essays. There are also a couple of shelves that are author-specific: Ernest Hemingway, Stephen R. Donaldson, Gore Vidal, and Anne Rice. All my Anne Fadiman books are in one place, but they don't take up all that much room.

*hmmm -- touchstones seem to be out-to-lunch today....

apr 5, 2008, 6:57 pm

Right in front of me right now:

American Indian Trickster Tales
The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary short Fiction
Adultry & Other Choices by Andre Dubus
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Souvenir Booklet from the Henry Miller Library

apr 6, 2008, 12:19 pm

With me lately:
Nature Illuminated: Flora and Fauna from the Court of the Emperor Rudolf II
Formless A users guide by Yve-Alain Bois
AND the best of all...
Another Water Roni Horn

apr 6, 2008, 8:27 pm

The nearest to me right now, out of a multitude of stacks on floor and desk, is Anya Seton's 1958 novel The Winthrop Woman. I read it as a teenager and had remembered it as a more than usually good, if somewhat atypical, historical romance - but it's not that at all. It's a biographical novel about a niece of John Winthrop, a founder and governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She scandalized her Puritan relatives and neighbors with her earthy and modestly rebellious attitudes. Seton writes very well about the lusts of respectable women, but the novel is really about the ills of fundamentalist-style religion and the distortions it creates in people's relationships.

Redigeret: apr 6, 2008, 11:06 pm

The books nearest me and the computer at this moment are:
Godel, Escher, Bach -- this is being discussed now in a thread at:
God : Alexander Waugh - not sure I'm going to finish this.
The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats - perceptive and funny to cat owners

Redigeret: apr 8, 2008, 8:39 pm

> 36

formless by yves alain bois is one of those books that i encounter periodically and keep saying i will read some day but never do. there should be a name for that kind of books. anyhoo a friend in grad school swore it was the best thing ever.

apr 8, 2008, 3:53 pm

In front of me are my 'Art Books',To the right of my computer are a shelf of books on 'Architecture' and behind me are 2 bookcases containing 'Biography and Autobiography'.
By the way I've just joined this group,so Hello.

Redigeret: apr 10, 2008, 6:22 pm

In history as in life, decay is the laboratory of said Karl Marx as pointed out by Yve-Alain Bois as demonstrated by Bataille. It's a dense book.Formless I love to haul it around.

apr 27, 2008, 1:06 pm

Now, it is Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, along with two Edward Hopper books--the recently published catalog for his exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a book of Edward Hopper's Watercolors, published by the National Gallery. I'm nearly finished with Miles (the Autobiography of Miles Davis).

maj 15, 2008, 12:23 am

The Heart of Emerson's Journals, Emerson, the Mind on Fire, Adultry & Other Choices, Aurora Leigh.

I've really been getting into Emerson lately. He's much more interesting than I thought he was when I was in the Master's program in college! :-)

I'm really interested in the extent to which Emerson sought awakeness, awareness, enlightenment, and he did so, in my opinion, without getting "weird" (like Fourier). Interesting, too, that he seemed to reject the Greek stoicism regarding tragedy: how suffering brings wisdom. Emerson could not accept that the loss of his wife and son could bring him anything other than sadness, grief.

maj 15, 2008, 7:42 am

Oh my, Emerson! It's past 6:30 and I have to get to school. But I'll be back. This is the one writer who changed my life more profoundly than any other spirit from the past. I've read Mind on Fire, and the Heart of Emerson's Journals. I never can seem to find others who have gotten in to him. Thanks, Theresa, for bringing him into the discussion.

maj 15, 2008, 9:28 am

I'm going to start a new thread, then, 'cause I'd really like to know your thoughts! Thank you!

jan 5, 2009, 8:57 am

Dear TheresaWilliams,

Have you started the new thread?

If not, at the moment I am surrounded by, say...
500 SF and other books in my lounge room. They have been put onto LT (I hope)

I found I have 2 (or more?) copies of the Concise Oxford Dictionary.

Of course I double check any words I find in a single copy. Always the same...

No, not that mad, just so many books (out of storage)

Have you noticed that books glare at you if they haven't been read for a while?

Ahhh, books.

Your Aussi nut, Guido.

jan 6, 2009, 12:13 pm