Friday, September 5, 2008

Bookworms (and Bibliophiles) Unite!

Books. We all have them (or at least we should) and most of us have way too many of them. Academics in particular tend to collect them -- even ones they have and may never read. I've moved around a lot in the past 2.5 years and this has resulted in a lot of book purging. Luckily, I've kept a massive list that's off to the right there of all books I've owned or once owned and for the most part what I've read. Of course, this list compilation started just last year, so anything I owned before that and sold or donated or passed along is unfortunately not there. My policy is that, the books I chuck or donate I can just buy again. Books, you see, are going nowhere.And, might I add, as an Academic, I intend to hoard them.

So no matter what way you paint it, books are our lifeblood. The great books -- the Torah (or Bible), War and Peace, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (note: there's no THE in the actual title), The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter? -- are known, if only by title, to just about everyone. And we know books by the way they feel and smell and the cover(s) that adorn them. We don't know books by their .pdf incarnation via the Sony Readers or Kindles (though, you know, I really want one). We crave the hard copy, the beautiful, physical page-turning experience that is the book.

I currently have three Tanakhs and two chumashes. It was pointed out that all of the books I brought to school with me are Judaica (and they are, except for one Vonnegut), and most of the books I have back home are Judaica, with the exception of Salinger, Diamant, Vonnegut, Joyce, and others. In the past two weeks at school, I have recalled one book from a different campus, in addition to checking out three other books -- one required and the other two simply books I picked up while perusing the stacks (one on Shabbos stories and the other by an author who broke down the Documentary Hypothesis and essentially recomposed Torah). You see, I can't leave the library without picking up a new book. Even if I never get to it, books -- I must be surrounded by books.

I recently finished Chaim Potok's "Davita's Harp," while also spending plenty of time reading "Cool Jew," while also starting and finishing (and needing to review) "The Search Committee" by Rabbi Marc D. Angel, in addition to (yes, this is the last one), starting and almost finishing Nahum Sarna's book on "Genesis" (the Torah book, not the band).

You see, I am a bookworm in anticipation of becoming a bibliophile.

So I take with great comfort the calming words I recently wrote to a friend who is applying to graduate school for a library sciences degree about the future of books (no, they're not going anywhere). I also was excited to hear that my good friend Jon finally decided to start a blog on what he calls "Fringe-Lit," the books that you wouldn't hear about outside of a college classroom or a university or small press. His blog, Up the Broken Trail, is now live and in his first post he explains how it is that he discoveres new, interesting authors that might not otherwise break the big Borders wall of awesome (read: Stephen King, ugh) books. By the way, I have to add that Jon, a brilliant writer and an amazing person and friend, has already written his own book (it's on Nebraska football, if you're interested), which I think is pretty impressive.

And then there's another blog that I have to pass along as a lover of books, and that's the Jew Wishes blog. Jew Wishes is "an avid first edition book collector," who reads anywhere between three and five books a week, along with newspapers and periodicals. Essentially, Jew Wishes is well read and provides readers with a rundown of the books getting the read-through. The most recent post by Jew Wishes is about the book "The Talmud and the Internet" by Jonathan Rosen -- a book I've been meaning to pick up for some time now.

I'm sure there are loads of other book-friendly blogs out there, but these are the two on my radar that I think YOU should most definitely check out. As for me, I still have a book review of "The Search Committee," which just came out officially on September 1, and that will likely come Saturday, so stay tuned. Until then?

Well, you see, I'm finishing up the book on "Genesis," starting Sarna's other book "Exploring Exodus," and I've already started reading the book that sort of resorts out the Torah, and the Shabbos stories book will probably be a reference more than a read. What else? Well, there's also all that other class reading ... I have about four books on Qohelet that I need to pore over, not to mention regular Torah study and ...

Books. They're what's for dinner. And breakfast, lunch, long walks to the dining hall, bus rides, plane rides, short bathroom visits ...

Note: There is a difference between a bookworm and a bibliophile! As your editor in residence, I want to clarify the difference. A bookworm is a lover of books for their content and loves reading in general. A bibliophile, on the other hand, is more of a lover of books who strives to collect books and appreciates them  for their format and purpose. I'm a little bit of both, but since my collection isn't so fast (what with all the movie and such), I'm more of just a bookworm for now.