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april 27 1996: summer reading

(may 4: once again i must beggar off my weekly duties, as it is study week and i am fucked. please understand. next week i shall get back in the swing for good.)

i realized recently (again with the "i realized"!) that all i really want to be doing with my life right now is reading. not writing particularly, not painting particularly, although I'm sure I'll do both this summer. just reading books.

this, of course, is a problematic realization to have two weeks before the end of term, with two papers and two major sculpture projects due before leaving. but that stuff always gets taken care of.

some folks would be very happy to hear that I am planning to focus on Old Books. mostly I tend to read New Books, defined as novels written in the past ten years or so. my friend Adam mostly reads Old Books, because he's an English major and that's his job. i tried to convince him to mostly read New Books this summer, but he went "but Mike, there are so many more old books." this makes me suspect Adam of wimpness, probably unfairly.

as of 4/27 I'm still working on my reading list; feel free to send suggestions. but I'll run it down as it stands:


fuck, I know I'm forgetting a couple that I was firm on. I'm thinking maybe Nabokov (just the basics; I never finished Lolita in high school, time to go back to it) and... aargh, something else.

An added attraction is the recent opening of the new San Francisco Main Library. this is one of those new libraries, you know, big and expensive and flashy, with a coffee bar and Web terminals scattered all over the place. i'd wanted to get my Old Books from libraries, because I'm worried that if I go to bookstores to get them, I'll wind up tempted by the New Books, which bookstores are really about, and lose all my concentration. I probably will anyway. But I'll be making the new library a major destination, even if I don't get to check stuff out from them, which I might not.

It's probably also a false mental construct of mine that Libraries = Old Books and Bookstores = New Books. I know I've never been able to find the hot new novels 'n shit at either the Albany CA or Vassar libraries. Another problem is, I don't often finish library books. Three weeks or so is certainly enough time to finish a book, but if you run out of steam on it and know you have to give it back ,it just makes you less inclined to go to the trouble to hurry to finish it, or to check it out again at some other time. Owning a book lets you luxuriate, although you feel even guiltier when you buy something and don't finish it. (Actually I don't have a lot of hangups about finishing books.)

The only other problem facing me is that of the old Calvinist ethic: Production Makes You A Better Person. Despite my fundamental laziness, this maxim has been central to my life for a long time. I've always wanted to do my own stuff and get it out there. It took me until very recently to realize that the urge to self-publish is not universal; that is, that I shouldn't bug everyone about putting their good content on the Web. It's okay to produce and keep it to yourself, for whatever reason. But it's also okay not to produce; to conserve, replenish; not to procrastinate, but to wait.

And fuck it: this is vacation we're talking about.

in other news: the piece that was going to be last week's, then this week's, is now postponed indefinitely, since it needs more time than I can give it right now. it may become something else entirely.

so I bit the bullet and moved my page all the way over to AALN. sad, sort of, but there's no reason to be excessively attached to the sitcom machine; it was a great victory at a time when there was no other way for students to put pages up, but now its advantage as a student-run server is unclear when the people who are really serious about scripts, etc. all have AALN accounts (which, hopefully, the library will see fit to let us keep).

potential addition to the reading list: East of Eden, Steinbeck. adam says it's long but amazing. there are many ways to cut up the "best book I've ever read" issue, and for adam, this seems to be the best book he's ever read in a high-school emotional-connection sort of way. it'll be interesting to ask him again in a few years.

don't you hate it when you haven't seen an old obsession-subject for a while and have gotten her almost totally out of your system, and then suddenly you see her around again and it all gets re-triggered. sucks. just happened to me. i'll get over it soon.

these graphics come from How To Read A Person Like A Book, And What To Do About It by Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero, Cornerstone Library paperback, 1971. Many thanks to Jesse Farber for use of this book. Save these GIFs for a million household uses!


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or don't. i'm too lazy to provide links this time. but i did find out, thanks to the redoubtable Stating The Obvious, that the new SF Main Library does have a site. (I just can't get it to work.)

Tales From The Dork Side are copyright Mike Sugarbaker, email for permission to redistribute.
Updated Apr 27 1996
misuba@iberia.vassar.edu