So today I sat in my office and looked over at my library of books, probably about 700 books all together. The top half of the library contains my cookbook collection and lots of other non-fiction books. The bottom half is largely science fiction, some paperbacks that I’ve had for 30 years, The Lord of the Rings trilogy for example. There were also several large stacks of books on the floor because the shelves are full. Jane is wanting me to do something to get the books off the floor. Even though she doesn’t spend that much time in my office so I don’t know why it bothers her, but she’s right the piles have been accumulating and its time to do something.
Suddenly it hit me, I could let all of the paperbacks go. I’ve been saving them for years because they are my favorites and maybe I’ll read them again, or maybe I just like to look at the shelves and see my old favorites sitting there. I’m not sure what the precise reason is, whatever it is I’m over it. I just realized that if I did want to read them again, I would no longer want to do it by holding a real book in my hand. I realized that just like all of my old ‘80s music that I had on cassette tape these are relics of my past, and if I did want to read them again I would be happier to download them to my iPad and read them in the kindle app or iBooks. But, fat chance that the iBooks store would have any of these old favorites. I prefer the iPad over the dedicated Kindle because it saves me one device. Plus until now the kindle required cell coverage that I don’t have.
So, here, for posterity, and maybe to remind me in the future if I come back and read this post instead of staring at bookshelves, is a random walk through the lower half of my library. If you have suggestions for what I can do with the paperbacks let me know. If you read this list and have suggestions for other authors you think I would like, definitely let me know.
- Rober Sawyer, every book ever written by him except for the current WWW series which I bought in electronic form from the beginning. Factoring Humanity, Calculating God, the Hominid Series, great ideas
- Isaac Asimov, The robot books, and the entire foundation series. These books took me through college.
- Stephen R. Donaldson, the Thomas Covenant Chronicles. Covenant is still one frustrating guy whenever I think about these books. Although I notice that there are some new additions to the series that are out in eBook form…
- Dan Simmons, the Hyperion, Endymion series. The Shrike was one scary monster.
- David Brin, Despite the absolutely dismal movie the Postman is still a favorite in how it forshadowed the web. I also have some Brin on the upper half of the library, The Transparent Society is an excellent book to get you thinking about privacy in the digital age.
- Orson Scott Card, the Enders Game series… I loved all of these books, and I even like some of the more recent ones where he goes back and fills in some missing pieces from the perspective of other characters.
- Connie Willis, The Doomesday Book is awesome as are many of her other stories although none have captivated me as much as that one.
- Frank Herbert, The Dune series of course.
- Robert Heinlien, Stranger in a Strange Land and others.
- Mary Doria Russel, The Sparrow. This is one of my all time favorite books, in fact I even made my Paideia students read it last year. I’m sure they thought I was off the deep end for making them read Science Fiction in a serious class like Paideia but Oh well.
- Robert Russo, not science fiction but a great writer. I like all of his books, but teaching at a small college, I get tears in my eyes from laughing so hard when I read Straight Man.
- And speaking of non-science fiction books, Jon Hassler, this guy captures small town midwest living so well. From Staggerford to Rookery Blues they are amazing. I miss him, and I miss Connie Helgen who recommended him to me. After our trip to Ireland this summer I’ve been longing to go back and read a Green Journey again, but I just checked and its not available in the Kindle store. Horrors!
- James Halperin, The Truth Machine, and I just read an article this morning about a group out in california that is using MRI as a new lie detector. Anyway, read this book.
- Roger Zelazny, the whole Amber Series, kind of a disfunctional family but the whole series is fun to read.
- John Grisham, hmmm why did I save all of these??
- Carl Sagan, Contact. I read this way before the Jodi Foster movie. That was just a bonus for a young geek who loved her in the after school specials.
- J. R. R. Tolkien, a boxed set of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I don’t think I can part with these. I still remember reading these late at night with a flashlight under my blanket. I’ve still never been able to make it through the Silmarillion though.
- Douglass Adams, such a loss, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. I swear I can open up any of these books to a random page and start reading and I’ll be laughing in no time.
- Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. I’ve never had the energy to make it through the Quicksilver books, but I have Anathem on my iPad so we’ll see.
- Gordon R. Dickson, Dorsai, the Chantry Guild, The Final Encyclopedia
- Larry Niven, the Ringword Books, and other books with Jerry Pournelle (a Mote in God’s Eye) I still remember looking forward to reading Pournelle’s Chaos Manor column in Byte magazine every month
- Robert Charles Wilson, Spin, Darwinia, The Chronoliths, and others.
- Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep, a Deepness in the Sky
- Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed, and the Earthsea books.
- Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave series that retells the legend of King Arthur.
I also discovered a rather interesting section on the shelves devoted to historical fiction, but I’ll leave that for another time. I just wanted to mention it in case you’ve concluded that I’m hopelessly one dimensional.
I would also say that I’ve discovered that computer science reference books work very well as ebooks. I’ve been teaching myself to program my iPad and I have several good references in electronic form. Its nice to have them open on my big screen, and its easy to find examples when you can search.