Monday, July 02, 2007


Throughout my life, I've gone through periods of fiery activity with my library cards. Every place I've ever lived, I've had ready access to a library, whether the result of a childishly signed card back when bar codes were new, or access to academic libraries from paying thousands of dollars in tuition.

Right now, I have accounts at two libraries. Well, two libraries in Kansas City; I also have two accounts in St. Louis, but those have long since lapsed into inactivity, I'd suspect. The first library is the university library on the UM-KC campus. It's an imposing edifice to knowledge and an architectural style that has left us. Home to many musical score and textbooks, I go there for all my paper-writing tasks.

The second library is my local county library. One of 10 or 12 such libraries in the system, it satisfies my "less academic" reading desires. I'm currently working my way gradually through the DVD collections of the various seasons of "Sex and the City", for example, since I'm too poor and oblivious to ever subscribe to HBO. Over the years, it has provided me with very interesting reading and viewing material, especially in the realm of things I would never spend money to view.

When I had questions about intelligent design, I was able to obtain "Of Pandas and People" through my local library. Intended to be a classroom textbook for a biology course favorable to ID, it was a very engaging book. I have never read a textbook that ate its own tail in such a fashion. Half the book seemed dedicated to using the scientific method, while the other seemed dedicated to putting it aside. Fascinating.

When I heard a Texas preacher interviewed on the radio, I was able to find his latest book on the shelves. "Jerusalem Countdown", by John Hagee, reads like a very boring Tom Clancy novel. It's full of secrets and spies and imminent destruction. Coating the whole non-fiction book is a cloud of the Zionist ideas that he preaches when not writing books. So, I could never quite work out when he's telling us that "Jerusalem" is in danger of attack from extremists, if he was against the attacks (because of human decency), or for them (because he believes it would be a harbinger to the Second Coming).

I love the library. It embodies one of my highest ideals for information. The library is a place where a vast array of ideas can be presented. Want to read what Hitler wrote? Stalin? Ghandi? Various popes? Saint Augustine? "Weird Al"? Carol Spinney (who performs Big Bird)? Plato? They're all here. Old ideas share shelf space next to new. Good ideas next to bad. Influential ideas next to misunderstood ones. It's rather like the Internet, but with a better classification system. Thanks, Dewey!

I love wandering amongst the shelves. Here's the haul from my latest jaunt to the library, in no particular order:

1). Discovering Your Personality Type (Featuring the latest Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator), by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.

I picked this up because I was intrigued what the aformentioned Enneagram Type Indicator actually meant. Plus, I've always been fascinated by personality types ever since my freshman year biology course. Thanks, Mr. Horak!

2). The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?, by Rick Warren.

I've heard this book's title before in various places. That's what got me to take it off the shelf. It was the beginning of the dedication, however, that got it into my home.

This book is dedicated to you. Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are holding this book. God longs for you to discover the life he created you to live-- here on earth, and forever in eternity.

Well, damn! Seems like God went to an awful lot of trouble to have me wander through the library on this specific day just to pick this book up, just so I could scoff at it in my own narrow-minded way. I wouldn't want to disappoint God and the author by putting it back on the shelf.

3). Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps: How We're Different and What to Do About It, by Barbara and Allan Pease.

Flipping through the book, it seemed like it covered a lot of ground. Besides, it has two chimpanzees on the cover. What's not to like?

4). The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

Another book whose title I have heard mentioned. People who've read it seemed to feel it sends a burning lance of truth to the center of their souls, or that it is complete crap and should only be used to stem the flow of nasal mucus during a bad head cold. I'm determined to make my own opinion. I'm about fifteen chapters in (out of 50-some odd), and I've felt compelled to take notes on the more striking passages. I'm sure they'll be an entry about this from me after I finish.

5). Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.

I'm two chapters in to this one, and I'm not surprised to find that he doesn't write nearly as "sexy" a book as some of these other authors. If he doesn't get to the point soon, I don't think he'll have enough space left to tell me how to find the man of my dreams!

6). Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, by P.G. Wodehouse.

Pure cotton candy for an Anglophile like myself. A 200-page book where nothing of consequence happens, and in the end everyone marries who they're supposed to. Oh, and Jeeves continues to be awesome.

7). Funerals Are Fatal, by Agatha Christie.

A mystery involving Hercule Poirot. Not one of Christie's spectacular plots that ends up on a literary pedestal, but a very pleasing who-dun-it. I didn't know who was the culprit was, so I consider that the gift the book gave me. Just so you know, the butler may or may not be involved.

8). The Civil War, by Ken Burns (DVD).

Historical comfort food. The only item on this list I've ever seen before. Can't get enough. Every time I watch it, it sends me scurrying to the history books for biographies or other books. Something motivating me to learn on my own? Unnatural. Possibly witchcraft.

9). Intuitive Eating: A Recovery Book for the Chronic Dieter, by Evelyn Tribole.

Recommended by a friend, on multiple occasions. Halfway though, and (pardon the expression) it's taking some time to digest. Contains a lot of that "common sense but we're telling you again" information. Also making me think about eating and food in ways that seem totally foreign to me.

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