Thursday, July 16, 2009

Selling Books . . .

I'm sitting here under the giant oak tree in my front yard next to piles of my most prized - yet undervalued - possessions.  

For years I read what my teachers told me to read, when it was too boring, I read the cliff notes.  In college, being a science major, we didn't read books.  Instead, we read scientific articles.  I had massive collections of scientific articles I was supposed to read in college, grad school too, even if they were of the more social side of what was called science.

The point is that I always felt reading was a chore, a burden that had to be endured to achieve knowledge so as to derive intelligence. 

I always felt that fiction was a waste of time.  No real knowledge was gained from fiction, you might as well watch TV.  So the first book that got me back into reading was an entertaining scientific non-fiction book called, "Stiff."  Authored by Mary Roach, it is a terrific book about what happens to your body when you die.  It covers a wide variety of death choices one might consider and gives, in graphic detail, the ultimate course of those decisions.  I was delighted.  

It turns out that at Bookshop Santa Cruz, there isn't a section for funny, scientific, non-fiction books.  And my librarian partner conceded that this is not a real category of work, nor was it accounted for in the Dewey Decimal System.

I was at a loss.  Patience is a virtue I'm still working on and sifting through stacks and stacks of science books to find one that said, "funny" in the review on the back cover was not an activity I considered fun.  Eventually though, through friends and others that Mary Roach wrote, I started to become a reader.  First strictly non-fiction, then slowly into memoirs, and the to the Beats - where I stayed for a while.  A couple years went by where I only read the works by Beat authors.  Nothing else was as captivating to me than a group of social and literary revolutionaries.

I soon found out that it wasn't the beats being beats that I liked, it was revolutionaries.  People who created art as a way of advancing or expressing a social or political agenda or experience. I've read about just about every revolution I can find from music to politics, social justice to radical art.  

I'm currently reading an amazing book called, "Intimate Politics" by Bettina Aptheker.  A friend from Santa Cruz gave me on my last trip down there and said that of everyone she knew, I was the one that just had to read this book.  I've only just read the introduction and I know its one I'll enjoy in its entirety.

The point is that I'm leaving, or hope to be leaving, very very soon.  But even if I don't leave for some unbeknownst-to-me medical reason, purging one's material things is good for the mind.  So my books are on sale, cheap - I just want them to go to a good home. 

I don't want to donate them to the library because they usually already have them, I don't want to go to a used book store mostly because I have too many.  Whatever doesn't go for the incredible price of 2 for a dollar, will be donated to some agency that isn't the Salvation Army. 

So I sit here under my oak tree, iced coffee on the right, margarita on the left waiting for people to come sift through my hundreds of books hoping they might find something that will entertain them and teach them something about life . . . and then give me 50 cents for it.