There is nothing more sad than walking into a home or a chain book store and seeing a stack of empty shelves.
The current decline of the mom and pop book store is disheartening.
One need only see the movie, with Meg Ryan, You Got Mail, which is a remake of the The Little Shop Around the Corner to feel the sadness that permeates the closing of a woman’s neighborhood bookstore.
Losing a familiar bookstore is like losing a good friend.
Now the same malady is infecting even the big chains, like Borders, which declared bankruptcy this year and Barnes and Noble, which looms large, yet even B&N seems to be struggling.
Is it that people don’t read books anymore or is it that they just don’t buy them anymore.
Part of the recent is the switch from print information, both for news and recreation and the loss of an inquiring literate population which seems to have lost its curiosity about the meaning of life.
The digital age has also impacted traditional book reading. I saw my first Kindle on an airplane and from where I was sitting it looked like a large video game.
Then there is also something called the Nook that sounds more fitting for the first meal of the day. And then my daughter got an her first I-Pad.
These were all new ways to read a book…virtually any book.
Now maybe I will be the last hold-out. I never want to use these alternate reading methods.
I still read newspapers–home delivered. Three in the morning and later I but the New York Times but only for the pictures.
I want to be the Last Bibliophile who has the last book in the world. I like to buy my books and take them home with me. I like the interchange of having a real person wait on me.
I love the feel, the smell and the physical presence of a book.
Like so many people who wish they owned their own restaurant or race horse, owning a bookstore or even working in one has always been on my dream list.
Being surrounded by stack of books entrances me like a beautiful sunset.
It is like having the world’s wisdom at your fingertips…if you know where to look.
Sometimes I just stand in the middle of a line of book shelves and drink in the ideas and facts emanating from the colorful array of new titles.
I do have to confess that I never go into a library any more because the Internet is easier and while time may be money to some, to me it allows me to have more time for my personal reading.
Reading is a mental form of exercise that may help me fight the ravages of age, which often starts in the brain.
I Read about a 100 pages a day–sometimes more.
I have been logging each book I finish with the date finished , the author, title and number of pages.
A couple of years ago, I read 128 books, my best ever. Most years I can count on reading anywhere from 105-120.
Some times I can read as many as 250 pages while other days, reading 50 can be a chore.
When we go on vacation, my wife shops and I am content to sit and read one of my traveling books.
I judge the quality of a store by the comfort of its seats for waiting men.
I have sat on cold marble, dirty stairs and sometimes stood in a corner, just to get my fix.
I read all kinds of books–many of them novels.
James Paterson tells a good story. I buy his books not for their literary content but for their swift-moving pace.
Jonathan Kellerman and Michael Connolly are much better writers.
The later developed a character over the course of several books.
A detective, named Harry Bosch–short for Hieronymus Bosch, the 15th century Dutch painter, appeared in several of his books.
Harry was a tunnel rat in Vietnam and was getting a little too old to feature.
He now writes about Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer.
I read a lot of non-fiction as well…especially current events, memoirs and history.
Of the later I read everything about the ideas that have launched our own culture, especially from the French Revolution, the Civil War and the early 20th century.
Right now I am reading John Thorn’s Baseball in the Garden of Eden, Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth II, and David Goldfield’s civil war epic, America Aflame.
I was inspired to do much of this reading by a history professor at St. Louis University, named Ed Maguire.
Dr. Maguire had a terrible stutter that affected his presentation but that didn’t stop him from teaching or passing on the secret of all education: Read books. And I have ever since.
I read exactly four books during my first eight years of primary school. And my mother had to finish two of them for me.
I remember trying to read Black Beauty and could never get past the fourth chapter.
I did start reading just before graduation–Xavier H. S. had given us a book list and I read 11 books.
But in high school I did only the required amount of reading.
What changed my life was the advice from the recruiter from Boston College who told me that with a Verbal score of 417 (before it was inflated 20 years later) I could not get into his school.
And BC was where I wanted to go at that time.
So I got serious. Like Cool Hand Luke said, I can eat 50 eggs.
Well I digested 50 books and the next time I took the SAT, my verbal had modestly increased to a 509. Strangely my math score went from a 522 to 647.
Forget BC, I could now go to Holy Cross.
By the way my verbal on the Grad Record Exam right after college was a 650, which placed me in the 92 percentile.
I can use words like sesquipedalian and polymath with comfort.
Books have paved the way for my life.
Since then I have always liked to have books around me.
They are my friends, my companions for a lonely night and my teachers.
I now have about 3000 books in my home–my wife calls them a nuisance. I call them my library.
My book habit is getting expensive. I collect discount coupons that I hate to waste.I have to buy at least one a day. Sometimes, I load up with 5-6 books.
Right now I have more books than I will ever be able to read. I am more like a collector or even a horder.
But for now my motto is so many books…so little time.
My wife says that some day she is going to bury me and my books in an 80′ hole.
I have become akin to the Fireman in Ray Bradbury’s classic, Fahrenheit 451–the degree of temperature when paper burns–who did not put fires out but burned books–all books. This lead to a cult that memorized the great books and passed them on.
But during one such job he became curious and kept one of the books, which he then read. Like me, he became hooked on books and started stashing them all over the house.
I do that now. He put them in a fake TV, overhead lights, closets, under floor boards and any where that would store his treasure.
Books are essential for man’s right to know I fear that someday, despite all the electronic book-reading devices, people will be so dulled by their education, they will use these devices, merely for the distracting contentment of bread and circuses.
And what of the bookstores? They will be nothing empty shelves which is like a world without love—a sad testament to the self-destruction of our civilization.
Everybody wants to be green and I don’t mean just on St. Paddy’s Day.
The green philosophy of saving the earth permeates virtually all of our cultural activities from Earth Day to Saving the Rain Forests and the recent Lights Out of artificial savings.
When I was a child before all this universal madness, I loved the color green.
Lime lollipops were my favorite and I got tickled each time I saw the commercial for the Jolly Green Giant on television.
Times have certainly changed. I stopped picking up the green suckers when I broke a tooth on one and I guess the JGG was relegated to the same retirement home, where that sexy gal on the Bryl Cream commercial that used to slither out of a tube of hair cream–a little dab did just fine.
Or maybe he went where the Marlboro Man went–I think he died of lung cancer.
With regard to another kind of giant the color green has not really been popular among literary greats.
Shakespeare colorably called jealousy the green-ey’d monster that mocked the meat upon which it fed. The derivitive is sometimes referred to as green with envy.
Rookie ball players are green, like new bananas.
I like to jest that at my age, I never buy green bananas.
Then there is the Green Monster in Boston.
But somehow being green has been extrapolated to represent an organized movement that threatens to do more destruction to human beings than the meltdown of a million nuclear reactors.
In the past few years I have interviewed two authors, who strongly believe this.
I have mentioned Steve Milloy’s book, Green Hell, which introduced…to me at the greens’ formula for the reduction of man’s carbon footprint.
This figurative footprint–it must be a very large shoe if it represents all the carbon production in the world–is the focus of what Milloy calls acronomically, I-PAT.
I-PAT is the product of the world’s population (P) times its accumulated affluence (A) times its technology. (T)
Now remember the greens want to REDUCE all of these contributors, which they believe are killing the planet.
So how do we reduce our population?
Easy, just stop reproducing–that is having babies.
How do you do that? Universal celibacy? No, I don’t think that is even one of the choices.
The best way for planet sustainability is through birth control pills, condoms and abortion.
Why do you think the powers that be blame the Catholic Church for opposing condom use?
They want people to get in the habit of using them to lessen the world’s population.
AIDs has nothing to do with it. That is the loss leader that gets people to buy something they really don’t need or want
Had they the greens had the absolute power they seek, this would not be a suggestion.
To the contrary, I think the greens like AIDs because it kills people–a lot of people. That’s good for I-PAT.
The EPA now regards carbon dioxide, the chief by-product of breathing as a pollutant that contributes to man’s carbon footprint.
First pregnancy is a disease and now people’s breathing pollutes the earth.
I know that if I had stepped in some carbon my wife would have just made me wipe my feet and that would have been the end of it.
You don’t think environmentalism kills human beings?
Rachel Carson could be considered as an indirect mass murder for her preposterous theory that DDT caused cancer. because of her book, The Silent Spring, this life-saving bug spray was removed from the market for over 40 years.
As a result malaria came back to Africa and the Far East with a powerful vengeance that has probably taken over 10-10 million lives since then.
Talk about genocide! The lack of DDT, not only brought back the deadly mosquitos but allowed for insects to eat the crops, causing mass starvation.
I personally believe that ObamaCare is designed, not to improve our medical care. It will destroy the best system in the world if it is successful.
Despite its budget-busting spending, his czars plan to cut 500 billion from Medicare so they can afford an extra 30 million newly insured people.
Medicare pays little as it is now.
What good is it if everyone has health care and no one can get to see a doctor when they are sick?
How is it going to be with these draconian cuts? Harry Reid thinks a paltry 60 billion is draconian…what about this?
And these are people who most need medical care. What are they supposed to do?
Obama said they could take a pill. What kind–cyanide.
In Oregon the state will gladly pay for a suicide pill after it denies a life-saving operation because it is too expensive.
So I think ObamaCare is a death plan for the passive euthanasia of millions of America’s useless eaters.
This will become more obvious if he is successful in finally getting the single-payer insurance system, which means people like me will not have a private insurance company to pay what the government will not.
I hope those pills come in different flavors–they probably will all be –you guessed it GREEN.
President Obama’s obsession with the redistribution of wealth works in well with the A.
Any sort of leveling will just lessen the world’s affluence and the wealth-producers lose their ambition and incentive to work hard.
Those who receive the hand-outs and welfare will consume and not produce a thing with their government largesse.
Technology is bad because it is the best way to expand our civilization and add to the wealth of nations. That means will buy bigger cars and take more travel around the world much more.
I just interviewed James Wanliss, whose new book, The Green Dragon, is more religiously based.
He was inspired by Al Gore to get involved in this fight.
Not because he was impressed with Gore’s understanding of the issues but because of the former vice-president’s gross ignorance of the subject and his lack of any verifiable credentials.
Wanliss wrote that the greens had become a fat-free religion–that is–a religion without restrictive dogma where humans would not be responsible for their own behavior
At first I thought this was a church Michelle Obama could join.
In essence the green have adorned themselves in the vestments of a real religion with teachings and doctrines that have the validity of tea leaves.
The book’s cover has the most feriously-looking beast on it I have ever seen.
If one may really judge a book by its cover, this one would appear to have horrible material in it.
If you dare to look at the monster’s eye closely and I advise carefully–he may bite your head off–you will see a color rendition of the world.
He says the churches have been complicit in this attack on human kind.
I know Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized man’s need to respect the planet. This is not the green philosophy—they used to call that Conservation and that is a good and moral thing.
But the green philosophy is infecting our schools and I would not be surprised if the Catholic Church in this country had fallen for their phony propaganda about global warming.
I would feel better if my church’s leaders would contrast true conservation with the deadly canard that is becoming touted as a necessary activity to save our planet.
My fear is that the bishops desire to be a modern player will cause them to smell the poisonous smoke emanating from this movement.
St. Louis University, one of the leading Jesuit schools in America has a new program that offers a degree in Sustainability.
Now I do not know if I-PAT is any part of its core curriculum but I do know that the word sustainability has been used as a code word for condoms and abortions and the reduction of the world’s population by over 85% from six billion to under a billion.
And of course the people who want this will always be part of the survivors. I wonder why that is so!
All this is just my concerned warning to anyone who wants to protect their own lives and future.
I am not telling you to oppose the Irish 40 shades of green, just the one that is mixed with human blood and color green, which is the real nature of the 41st shade of green—fatal environmentalism.