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Monday, August 3, 2009

Throw the book at him!

Haven’t we all have had, at one time or another, an obsession (big or small) with at least one self-help book? Writing a book is a mountain of work (I know, cause this Blog is a mole-hill!), so any title that seems like the author had half an idea of what they were writing about is an easy grab. I have purchased such books over the years that were introduced to me through various marketing methods (talk shows, etc.) and while their promises were tempting let me save you some time and money by revealing that the following things will never come to you through a book: You are not psychic, You will never make a million dollars in real estate (though you may in your life pay it), You can not become thinner, stronger, or better at math, and the answer to the eternal question is not answered in the pages of any book. The title of my book would be “How To Make Your First $1,000,000 By Not Buying This Book!”I just don’t know if I would show up at my own book signing.

Books to me are like props in a play, or evidence in a trial. They are among the earliest forms of viral media, I am sure it was common at one time to exclaim, “Did you read Jules Verne’s latest? Wow! Check out this chapter!” You will be hearing that phrase less and less as time goes by. I can't grasp the e-book readers like the Kindle, or Sony's solution - it just isn't the same as the bookcase in your den (or my man-cave) . Books are art; the jackets or dust covers, even the book shapes themselves are a unique form of the author or publisher's expression. Although printed in the thousands, the one you hold still seems unique and may eventually be considered one of your personal effects. My inability to feel that way about e-books makes them as much a turn-off as playing the slots with a debit card. Sure the coins smell and make your fingers a new kind of dirty, but that sound of the coin drop was the sound of wealth, just as books have their own smell and feel of wisdom.

You could say that I am talking out of both sides of my cyberspace; because the very medium I come out against I am using to communicate with you now. I guess my problem comes from the fact that you don't really own the books on the Kindle, you download your right to read them from an account online. The seller’s decision, or a hacker with an anti-literary bent can erase those rights in an instant. The difference (or my defense) is that for the most part you are reading my blog for free (You get what you pay for). Sure I want to be published some day, but in print, not to a Kindle.

I don't want to seem a hypocrite; I haven't actually read the books in this post from cover to cover. In several cases I just wanted to see if the book really delivers what the title promises or did when it was published. I am also interested in each book’s dated way to solve a common problem. If you haven’t guessed, I have a weakness for reference books, a kind of portable hard drive filled with things I want to know but can't store and recall locally.

Mostly, I buy books for the title. I am either intrigued, engrossed, amazed and yes, sometime titillated. Whatever that means. Most titles with double-entendre would be an obvious purchase, but triple-entendre? I couldn't dig out my quarters fast enough to buy this one. I also like the cover art here as well. I mean, really, what is the the balding male stereo-type doing in this scene? Maybe I am not mature enough for this title. Turns out the storys are only sexy in the context of the forties definition of "sexy" and leave more to the imagination than a hoop skirt and 5 petticoats.

This next one is just plain scandalous, and possibly suites my maturity level better, had I been born in 1935. I don't remember where I got this one but the theme and cover art that were the determining factor in my purchase. I really do judge a book by its cover. What better way to spend a weekend than hunting for coeds? But don't hunt empty handed, take the only reference book with the complete guide to 20 of the top womens colleges, which includes a fully detailed map of the campus and the name of the dorms and phone numbers at each. Once you have found your prey..take her out for a night on the town with short reviews or descriptions of the local clubs, restaurants, and finally overnight accommodations when you find that it is past curfew - also listed for each college.

This was published in 1951 by the Yale Banner Press and though somewhat racy, consider the source.

If you've read this far, you have my gratitude. I have clearly made a mountain out of this molehill, could you expect anything less from a digger? There are more books in my collection but it will have to wait until another post.

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