Thursday, October 02, 2008

gently into the good night



I officially announce today that I am a senior citizen. More accurately, my mind is a senior citizen.


I knew it was going to come to this sooner or later. You may recall that in early September, I announced in
book 'em, danno my receipt of several books. I had been holding off on purchasing and reading one of them (Thomas Cahill's Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginning of the Modern World) because of some very mediocre reviews.


And I was torn by that decision. I have enjoyed reading the other books in his Hinges of History series: How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, and Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. More than enjoyed -- I have learned much -- even when I disagreed with his conclusions and his historiography.


So, late in August, I relented and ordered the latest Cahill from Amazon. When it arrived, I was a bit disappointed. I had not noticed that I ordered a paperback, rather than my usual hardbound, version. I set it aside on my reading table, and there it set until Saturday morning.


Saturday was to be devoted solely to yard work to get the house in shape for the market. But I needed breakfast. And, eating required the hot tub. The hot tub required reading material. Out came the Cahill.


The introduction caught my attention. Even the digression to Alexandria did not distract me. But an odd thing happened around page 32. I found myself finishing sentences. By the next page, I knew what the next paragraph was going to tell me. Something odd was afoot.


Three options came to mind: 1) I had suddenly become clairvoyant; 2) My IQ had increased by 100 points, and I now knew things I had never read; or 3) I had read the book before, and had simply forgotten.


Hoping that option 1 or 2 could be true, I looked in my library -- and there it was. The latest Cahill book -- hardbound. But you have probably already figured that out from the photograph.


My opening line was not really accurate. I have been doing things like this since college. In fact, my memory may be getting better. I remember reading a Blackford Oakes novel three times while I was in the Air Force, never realizing I had read it before. (The only way I knew was because I was keeping a journal at the time. I still have a volume from 1974-1975. That might be an interesting revelation for a blog post one of these days.)


Cahill goes back on the shelf -- along with the realization that this is simply another reason why I do not want to abandon my library.


But I can get you a good deal on a slightly used copy of Mysteries of the Middle Ages.

12 comments:

John W said...

Steve--I've bought so many books only to find I've already read them, almost all of them through Amazon. When I pick up a volume at a physical bookstore, I know if I've read it almost immediately. Somehow that same recognition escapes me on a web page.

Islagringo said...

Next you'll be telling us that you need the large print edition! LOL!

You aren't planning on bringing all of those books south are you?!

Babs said...

We ALL do that - at least avid readers who read so much. How could we possibly keep track? Oh I do know one person who keeps a log of every book she's ever read - I would need a file cabinet to keep THAT many records........as would you!

Islaholic Trixie said...

I really don't think you need to raise your IQ. You amaze me with your "smarts" and writing ability.
Are you taking your library with you to Mexico?
OK...how much work did you get done on the house after reading and relaxing in the hot tub???

heatherinpardise said...

I'll take that extra book off your hands!

Laurie said...

I like Thomas Cahill. His first in the series, How the Irish Saved Civilization, was a book I purchased twice. But not my accident. I gave away my first copy to a seminary student who was too poor to buy good books. But you are not getting too old! I lose things and dates and names all of the time. Just now I was looking through my jacket and vest pockets for a phone number that was on a little piece of paper. Who knows where I left it?

glorv1 said...

Welcome to my club of senior citizens. I don't look at myself as old, I feel good, and I do try to remember what I read but sometimes it is so hard. That's life.

Steve Cotton said...

John -- I fully understand. If I had flipped through the book in a bookstore, I would have immediately recognized that I had read the book. It is exactly the same reason I hate talking on the telephone. Physical presence matters.

Wayne -- If I could figure out how to transport my library south, I would do it in a second. But it is not going to happen.

Babs -- My cousin's son keeps a detailed list of everything he has read -- and he reads a lot. Not for me.

isaholic trixie -- Thank you for the compliment. I am going to duck the question about sorting.

Heather -- I wish I could just drive by and drop it off for you.

Laurie -- If forgetting things like this was a certain sign of advancing age, I would have been old long ago.

Gloria -- I figure that when I forget something, it is merely because I have so many interesting things stuck in my head. I also suffer delusions of adequacy.

Anonymous said...

I've done this with CDs, but oddly enough, not books. Perhaps as I get older I'll buy books I've already read.

As for books in Mexico, they are absurdly expensive. At least the ones in Spanish. And I suspect that ones in English are hard to find, especially outside of the major cities. Even used books are rather expensive there.

I see your dilemma about taking the books with you. But if I were to move south, I'm not sure I could leave my books behind either.

But moving a lot of books 1,500+ miles would be a hassle. Expensive to ship.

I'm sure you'll arrive at an elegant solution.

Regards,

Kim G
Boston, MA
(which fortunately still boasts a fair number of bookstores)

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- Whether the solutuion is elegant or not, you will be one of the first to know.

VisitLaManzanilla said...

Oh Steve! This is so funny, given that I've been in the same bookclub for 6 years and many of the women have been together as a club for over 15, we often run into that "hey, did we already read this?" And we are all in our early 40's so don't be too depressed especially if this is the first time it has happened to you!

Steve Cotton said...

If I could read the same book over and over on the beaches of La Manzanilla, I would not care.