Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Candace's book meme

Okay, I know, the last two days of posts were BOR—ING!!

Today I’ll try to spice things up a bit.

Candace (formerly Chenoah, but now reincarnated through the miracle of electricity) over at Chapterhouse has tagged me with a simple meme. My assignment: write a personal list of 15 things about... books.

Gee, Candace. Fifteen whole “things?” I don’t know where to start.

1. All my life I’ve heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Which I know is a metaphor for “Don’t judge based on outward appearances.” But we all do, don’t we? To some extent, at least. Why is that?

2. Unlike Candace, I don’t own thousands of books. But I belong to the library, and I use my card a lot. Likewise I don’t buy videos and DVDs, but I’m a Netflix user. As long as something is available to borrow (free) or rent (cheap), I’ll not spend a lot of money to own it.

3. I’ve been an avid book reader since age 5. There’s ALWAYS a book on my nightstand.

4. The book on my nightstand right now is a library copy of Tom Clancy’s “Executive Orders.” Yeah, I’ve read it before. But this summer I started back through his series of stories from “Hunt for Red October” and that’s how far I’ve gotten reliving the Jack Ryan chronicles.

5. My favorite all time book? I have no idea. Too many good ones out there!

6. Favorite all-time author? Again, when I think of a possible name, 5 more come to mind. If I started listing them, the list would fill up this post.

7. The book I’ve read cover-to-cover the most often? Easy. The Bible. For over 20 years... no, nearly 30, Carol and I have read the bible all the way through each year. We read it aloud to each other. If that makes me weird, so be it. But ask me a bible question on Jeopardy, and I’ll bet I know the answer!

8. (Whew! Half way home.) I always thought books would be pretty easy to write. Until I tried to write one. Oh, sitting down and putting a few thousand words on paper (or screen) is pretty simple, but when you read back through the stuff and see how BAD it is, and then end up editing each passage umpteen dozen times, and even THEN it’s of questionable readability... Well, it ain’t easy for ME!

9. Did you know you can cook books? Corporate accounting types at places like World Com and Enron wrote the book (Ha!) on how to do it. “Creative Accounting,” right?

10. Did you ever wonder why, when you’ve made reservations for a trip or a hotel stay, you have “booked” it? An obvious reference back to the days when everything was stored in hand-written ledgers. But that phrase will probably be around for centuries yet.

11. (Gee. Five to go. Let’s see...) First book I ever read? No telling. I don’t remember that far back. I’m not sure the printing press had been invented yet, either.

12. Did I read books to my children? Absolutely! Do you know (this is true) that one of the first phrases my first child (Joy) ever uttered was, “READ DA BOOK!” Even as a toddler she loved to be read to! Maybe part of it was being held in Daddy’s lap and looking at the pictures, but she would toddle into a room where I was, little book clasped tight in both hands, and demand, “READ DA BOOK!” And by the time she was 4 she was reading all by herself. At age 5 we had her tested for entry into school, and she was reading at a 6th grade level. Actually, they got that far and stopped testing, so I don’t know WHAT level she was on.

13. Have books influenced me much? Immeasurably! They were one of the many sources for my values and attitudes on a lot of issues.

14. What have I learned by writing my own book? It’s not nearly enough to have a good story to tell, although that helps. It’s much more important to present the story in a way that the reader is unaware of the author. The reader is in the story, and a part of the story, and is sorry to see the story end. How do you do that? Well, there are many books written on that subject alone, but I think you have to have a knack, a perception of how the reader is involved. I don’t think following a list of rules on how to do it makes it happen. If I ever figure out a simple way to make it happen, I’ll write a bunch of bestsellers and then have my “How I Did It” book published posthumously, the proceeds to benefit my heirs.

15. Finally, (FINALLY!! AKA, the “F word” to my daughter Joy) why do I want to see my book(s) published? Money? Nope. Ego? Well, yeah, partly. I think I have a good story that involves the reader and is entertaining. I have BEEN involved in, and entertained by, so many good stories that I’d like to have the chance to involve and entertain others. Is that altruism? I hope so, a little bit. Ego, as above? Probably. It would definitely be a satisfying accomplishment. When someone reads my “CHERISH IS THE WORD” and then tells me they cried; I get shivers. (Some have, and I did!) Maybe someday...

Okay! There’s my list. In the spirit of keeping these things going I’ll tag Rob Hamel, and Karyn to produce their lists if they want to. No coercion.

But both are writers and very insightful, and I’d love to read their lists.


Candace said...

Thank you, John! I love this meme. The answers people give are fascinating! You read the Bible every year? I've only read it all the way through once. That's great you read it with your wife. Tomcat and I read aloud to each, other, too. Awww....

Karyn Lyndon said...

I'd love to play but I agree...15 does sound like a lot. Hmmmm...wonder how I can cheat?

Candace said...

Is 15 really daunting? Sorry, I but I picked you because you're a WRITER, of, you know, books. I thought you'd love to opine on the subject. Man, I could have gone on and on to at least 50! Oh, well. Thanks for playing along.