Now that I’m back in school it’s tough for me to go into bookstores. During summer and times off from school I have time to read as much as I want to, and I can get caught up on some of the books on my list. The problem is that while the semester is going on the list grows longer and I don’t have any time to read anything. For example, I’ve been halfway through The Picture of Dorian Gray for almost two months now because I started it one weekend and haven’t had the chance to finish it. I’ve got my fall break coming up, and I’ll have a few hours flying to and from Boston, but I’m likely going to have to use that time working on school stuff (yes, working on my laptop in a plane, I’ll be that guy) so I probably won’t have a chance to get back to Dorian Gray until Thanksgiving or even Christmas break. And I really hate that. So anyway, when I’m in a bookstore, like I was today, it depresses me because I see all these books I want to buy and read but know that I wouldn’t get to them until months and months from now, because after I finish Dorian Gray I’ve got others on my list, already on my bookshelf, that I need to get to first. For instance, in Barnes and Noble today they had a science books table, and a couple of them really caught my eye, like The Lightness of Being, which is evidently about physics and matter and the universal theory of being. Sounds like something I’d be terribly intrested in, right? Too bad, it stays on the table because I’d never have time to read it. Jesus for President, on the religion table? Sorry, not today. Numerous new fictions and a couple biographies, or maybe 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die? Nope. I’ve got to get to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao first, since I already have that one. And I’d like to get into some David Foster Wallace soon. Plus all these architecture books I want to read. Oh yeah, and the possible effort of writing a book of my own over Christmas break…Going to bookstores right now sucks for me.
Kind of relatedly, I guess, this today is the last day of Banned Books Week, a week used to bring attention to free spech and books that get regularly challenged or banned. I am a proponent of free speech without limits in literature, and think people should be left up to their own to decided whether or not they want to read something. So I really hate it when people try to ban books, and I think it contributes to the laziness of society and the growing idea that we are not responsible for our own actions, and we must be protected by the government so we don’t have to exercise judgement of our own. In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ll leave you with the first few lines of my favorite poem, one that created a huge controversy when it was published and was part of a landmark federal obscenity case. “Howl,” by Alan Ginsberg:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,