Books, books and more books
When I moved back to Greenville from Troy, I hauled with me a giant box of paperback's, hardcover novels, and English textbooks.
Now I'm not a voracious reader by any means. But over the years, I had accumulated quite a bit of weight, (the largest being my “Riverside Shakespeare”; the tiniest, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.”) However, I dutifully packed the books as if not doing so would somehow leave me woefully unprepared for the rest of my life. Part of it was because I'm a natural packrat when it comes to anything I read, be it books or magazines. The other is because I seem hesitant to rid myself of a cherished novel.
But when you think about it, what is there to keep about a book? Once you've read from page one to page whatever, the book ends up occupying some forgotten space in your home like a neglected toy from your childhood. What? Are you going to read it again? Invest the same amount of time you spent initially for the second reading of a story, the outcome of which you already know?
I'm reminded of a Seinfeld episode where George has recently broken up with his girlfriend, but bemoans the fact that he forgot to retrieve his books from her apartment. Why do you even care, asks Jerry.
“Because they're my books!” George yells.
My mother encouraged me to donate mine to Goodwill. Sacrilege, I thought. Especially considering some of the books she thought I should donate; novels which sufficiently moved me at a certain point in my life.
There are certain authors I have affinity with, and these are the ones I can't bear myself to be without. John Irving, who spends years creating his characters and plotting his novel before putting the book to paper. “The World According to Garp”, “The Cider House Rules” and “A Widow for One Year” are just a few of his best. Tim O'Brien, whose novels of Vietnam poignantly capture the best and worst of the boys sent to fight a war we would never win. And a boxed set of J.R.R. Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings.” The story within those three novels is much deeper than a surface story of dragons, elves, hobbits and other fantastical creatures.
There are also a few singular selections.
I own three novels featuring Robert E. Howard's Conan, made more famous by Marvel Comics and Arnold Schwarzenegger than by anything Howard wrote about the barbarian during his lifetime. I've had the novels since I was a teenager, yet still haven't read them.
I have a copy of the “Odyssey” by Homer. Forced to read it in high school, forced to read it in college, yet there it sits on my shelf as if it were some prized collectible.
Errol Flynn was one of my favorite old film stars and I possess a copy of his autobiography, “My Wicked, Wicked Ways.” The book is out of print now, but I wonder why no motion picture company has optioned the rights for a film on Flynn's life.
But those copies of “Jane Eyre” and “Pride and Prejudice” definitely have to go.
Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.