Visions of Paradise

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Books and me

When I was in young, books were very important to me as a way to escape the world in which I lived. I recall taking numerous walks down Palisade Avenue to the library, usually with my brother Stephen accompanying me, to take out books with little rocket ships on their spine. Most titles are lost in my memory, although I recall The Light at the End of the Tunnel (whose author is still lost to me) and L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. In junior high school, books became even more important to me. Perhaps the most important moment in my life occurred on Christmas morning, 1962, when I found a copy of Worlds of IF magazine in my stocking. My parents had always put a comic book in them, but that year one of them–I never knew parent it was–obviously found that sf magazine right above the comic books in Sal’s Stationary.

Since that moment I have had a lifelong love affair with books, primarily science fiction books, but not exclusively. Historical fiction is my second choice, followed by history itself. I still think about books a lot, spending time browsing my Books to Read, Recommended Reading and Inventory lists. It takes a major effort not to buy books continuously, and I am rather proud that I have only bought 22 total books this year (including 7 free books when I rejoined the Book-of-the-Month Club). I would love to have the time to read every book in my inventory, starting with the unread ones (246 fiction and 206 nonfiction), but that will never happen. But it is nice to still be passionate about something that has been with me my entire life.

With that in mind, I have been thinking about which books I would like to buy next and which books I would like to read next. For the former, I have considered Andre Norton’s Mask of the Outcasts and Stephen Baxter The Time Ships (since both authors are on my Authors I Wish To Read More By list), but eventually I ordered Robert A. Heinlein’s Four Frontiers, one of the compilations of his “young adult” novels published by the Science Fiction Book Club.

As for reading, I selected Brian W. Aldiss’ (unread) 1976 anthology Galactic Empires, vol. 1, mostly because it contains some interesting novelettes by Poul Anderson, Clifford D. Simak, Isaac Asimov and James White. If I like it, I might slip immediately into vol. 2.

Sometimes I wonder what people do if they have no passion guiding their life? No matter how much I love my job--and I do!--if my life consisted exclusively of working and household chores with occasional vacations and partying, I think I would be bored much of the time. Reading and writing are what fuel me and give me a large portion of my pleasure and satisfaction. I really feel sorry for people who have no passions in their life.


  • Bob, our lives really parallel a lot. We haven't always read the same books, but we're close. Since you read my blog you know the details. It's rather strange that you and I both got to Foundation and Red Planet independently and around the same time? I wonder how many late middle-aged science fiction fans are out there like us?

    By Blogger Jim Harris, At 5:40 AM  

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