I am a reader. The easiest way to drive me insane is to put me in a ‘please take a seat and wait’ situation without something to read. I have been known to read such drivel as “Golf Digest” when that was the only thing available in my dentist’s office.
I take a book everywhere I go. I carried three of them in my rucksack when I deployed to the Gulf War. I take a book when I go on vacation. I don’t necessarily read it, but I take comfort knowing it is there. OK, I don’t carry a book when I’m riding. But between me and my husband’s equal addiction to reading, we have, at last count, over 3000 books. And treasure each one.
I know I am going to die someday. Being atheist, I don’t believe in a god, but I do believe in some sort of afterlife. I have tried to live a good life so I’m sure I’ll be going somewhere nice, but nevertheless, I’m taking something to read with me.
I read mostly non-fiction, these days. Science is expanding so very fast and I like to keep up. It doesn’t mean, though, that I didn’t read a lot of fiction in the past. I just don’t have the time anymore for fiction. However, when it comes time to die, I want my favorite novels with me, for I will have plenty of time, then.
I have a number of books that have become more than just ‘something to read’ for me. They have become a part of who I am. They are silent treasures, waiting for me when I seek escape from the present world. In most cases, they are novels that opened my childhood eyes to a world far beyond that of the city life I was enduring. They made my life better, happier, more complete. Books led me into times, countries, the minds of other people…and animals…that I would never have imagined or experienced any other way.
I intend to be cremated, which will make carrying a few books with me a little easier. Intermingling my ashes with beloved books is a fitting way of entering the cosmos.
I invite you, (if anyone reads this) to list five books enshrined in the library of your soul. It is one of the few times I open my blog to just anybody, as I don’t like being hit up by anonymous commenters who are merely doing so to get me to mention their blog.
The list must be composed of books that so enchanted you, so encouraged you, so satisfied you, that you have read it several times. It can be any book, novel or non-fiction, with a few exceptions:
- No religious books. This means no bible. No koran. No torah. Sorry, but NO. I don’t want to hear stories about how you were saved, or want to save me. I am fine, thank you very much. This is my blog and the bible, while fiction, is not a book. No, I don’t want to hear it. The folks who say that their religious book is the only one they have ever read are far too closed-minded to be trusted. Besides, if you believe that your religious book is true, and you are convinced you’re going to heaven, why take it when you’re going to meet the guys who wrote it?
- It can be any sort of book other than the above. A text book. A how-to, do it yourself. Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds of America; a children’s book; something written several thousand years ago or one published yesterday. It can be your teenaged diary; the entire works of Shakespeare; a gift from your mother; the paperback that inspired you to be what you are today. The glory of books is that there are so many.
- The books must be ones that you have loved so much, read so often, that you know exactly how it comes out but you still read it, just for the love of it.
- No porno books. Porn isn’t a novel, it’s merely a literary vehicle by which men titillate other men’s minds. I don’t care if you read it, I just don’t want it littering my blog.
- No more than five books. Were I to be buried, I could fill a casket with the books I love, but I’m keeping it at five. Oh, hell, just burn my entire library with me in the middle. No, that’s not the idea here. Five books. This also serves to make you really contemplate how important, how integral the book was to what makes you you.
When you list it, put down how many times you’ve read the book or make your best guess. This will help you realize that it is, truly, a Most Beloved Book.
Herewith is my list of Five. If you notice, three are by the same author. That tells you how much they affected me, as I read them as a child, and still read them once in a while, despite knowing exactly what the story is and how it ends. I get something new out of it each time I read one of the Five.
- The Jungle Books-by Rudyard Kipling. (at least a dozen times)
- Kim-by Rudyard Kipling (six times?)
- Captains Courageous-by Rudyard Kipling (five times)
- The Horsemasters-by Don Stanford (six times)
- Shogun-by James Clavell (eight times. I loved it so much I tried to learn Japanese).
I have paperback copies of all these books. They will be on my chest, along with a few other items, when my body goes into the flames.