Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Over 800 Pages of Western Civilization

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donation

I was in my junior year of high school. The girl I had known since fourth grade sat next to me in AP European History, and we tried to have a good time making jokes and passing notes. She always did better on exams than I did. She was far more skilled in the cramming arena than most other students—now she is even good at studying.

That year we were assigned the task of reading From Dawn to Decadence, and it was painful. I think everyone in that room, with the exception of a boy-genius named Michael Smith, struggled through the 800+ pages of European History. Oh, it was SO painful. I would like to tell you that I have held onto the book all this time so that I could revisit it. Maybe it would not be so bad now. I might be older, wiser, and more inquisitive? Somehow, I doubt it. I am not going to risk it anyway. No way will I suffer through that book again. No, I think I held onto it as a trophy. An “I lived through this” trophy—not that I am keen to admit it so maybe trophy is not the right word. A personal and secret memento of book-reading gone bad?

All that being said, I felt a certain leap in my heart when I saw it on the bookshelf. It was beckoning me, and I rejoiced in finally being able to put it out once and for all. I am packing it up tonight, and I hope to never lay eyes on it again. Good riddance.


  1. I listen to the "Stuff You Should Know" podcast and the one I heard today was all about cremation. I learned that it is much cheaper but not necessarily more environmentally friendly than the regular burial--it's just a different kind of damage. Also, there is a new bio-cremation that I want where it IS more environmentally friendly and you are turned into an oil. Also, your body can be shot into space.

  2. I am thinking that your body being shot into space is one of the least environmentally friendly. Bio-cremation sounds like its where its at.