Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Falling Down and Falling Apart

Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
Weight: 11 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating—possibly here : http://www.wpbp.org/pages/book.html or somewhere like it. Donating to women’s prisons was suggested by a friend, and I am definitely interested if I can figure out how to do it.

Sherman Alexie will always hold a special place in my heart. I was first introduced to his writing while attending Agnes Scott College. He was a particular favorite of Dr. Guthrie. The first book of his I read was The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and I loved it. That was required reading for two of my classes over a time frame of four years, and each time I found different words to cling to and various “meanings” depending on where I was at in my own head. In my senior year, I would write one of my final papers about Reservation Blues. I also collected and read everything else I could find by the man while I was in school.

I was really into Reservation Blues when I read it but, unfortunately, I was not yet into Blues. This led for a very disjointed and dull paper on music and the written word. I tried. I read several books on Blues, and I bought the CD Sherman Alexie made with Jim Boyd to coincide with the book. I enjoyed the music and tortured my then-girlfriend with it every time we got into the car. It was much better than the Eddy Clearwater CD I bought for $13, by accident, when I was seeking out the real album. Much better.

The book itself blends together life on a Spokane Indian Reservation, the magical guitar of Robert Johnson, and the desperation of the garage band that brings it all together. As usual, for Alexie, the book is witty, fun to read, hilarious, angry, and heart-breaking. His writing is blunt and to the point, but beautiful. Each word is delivered with force and perseverance. The book is a multi-genre piece with songs, dialogue, music, activism, reality, and history seeping through the pages.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Exquisite Pearl

The Exquisite Pearl: The Journey to Allah and the Home of the Hereafter 2002 Translated by Abu Aaliyah Surkheel Sharif
The Light of the Qur’an: An Explanation to Surah al-Ikhlas and Surah al-Kafirum 2010 Prepared and translated by Abu Rumaysah
A Course in the Science of Reciting the Qur’an 1988 by Muhammad Ibrahim H.I. Surty
Key of Lisaan-ul-Quran Vol 1 and 2 2006 written by the teachers of Madrasah Ayesha Siddiqua Karachi
Lissan-ul-Quaran Vol 1 and 2 2008 and 2009 by the teachers of Madrasah Ayesha Siddiqua Karachi
Part 2 od Murshid al-Qari series 2007 by Madbut Writers and Translators

Weight: 7 lbs

Method of Disposal: Giving them to Vallan who has been studying Arabic, among other languages, for years. She will benefit from them far more than me.

I live right down the road from a decent-sized mosque. It is a very important part of the community and, just driving by; you can tell there are a lot of events in and around the building. I am not sure if these books have anything to do with my location in relation to this place.

I came home from work one day and saw books scattered in my neighbor’s yard. I initially thought she was just trying to give away some of her belongings. I wanted them, but I wasn’t sure. I decided to go inside and wait for a few hours. If they were still there after awhile I would take them. Nearly 7 hours later, in the dark, I went back outside. The books were still there. This time I noticed all the loose papers scattered in multiple other yards. I started to collect the papers. I became increasingly excited about my discovery. What was all this? I got it all inside, with just a few curious, late-night glances from some lingering neighbors. The books were all about the Qu’ran and bodybuilding. The loose papers were images from bodybuilding books. I felt like I had stumbled upon a gold mine, but I was very worried about the previous owner of these books. Why were they just thrown out like that? Why did no one come back to get them?

In current times, it is hard not to start assuming all sorts of things. It was probably some kid who did not want to study anymore. I hope it was. I really just want the previous owner to be healthy, happy, and uninjured physically or emotionally. In other words, I hope the owner tossed the books and no one took the liberty of tossing them for hir /her /him.

The United States has become so anti-Arabic, anti-Islamic, anti-Qur’an. It is scary. I hesitated to use the name of the person I was handing them over to even though she studies languages and international relations. How absurd is that? I mean, I know I was being a little over-the-top paranoid in thinking about that—which is why I decided to do it after all. But, it is still a world where these things cross your mind. There is so much we need to work on, so much we need to change.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Roderick Rules 2008 (uncorrected proof)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4: Dog Days
by Jeff Kinney
A Series of Unfortunate Events 2: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (1999)
Weight: 2.5 lbs

One of the most frustrating things about this project is that you realize how many books were lost over the years. You don’t know if they were misplaced, stolen, or never returned. They are just gone. I will think of one I read years back and realize that it is finally time to write about it and let it go. Then, I realize, it has been gone for who knows how long. Months? Years? A decade? What does it mean to love something so much you cannot remember when you lost it?

In this case, I am irritated because I wanted to give the entire series to my friend, Skye. I am about to head towards her house and thought it would be nice to bring a book bundle along but, alas, I cannot find the books I need. Book 1 and 3 of Diary of a Wimpy Kid is missing, and I cannot find the interactive journal either. Needless to say, I absolutely adore the Wimpy Kid series. I think they are hilarious. They never fail to make me happy. The movie was lackluster. The books far outshine it. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, but if you have kids you should really be sure to pick it up.

Another series I think all kids (and adults) should read is A Series of Unfortunate Events. The books are incredible. The dry humor makes me laugh out loud, and I appreciate all the little vocabulary lessons. It would be an utter shame for you and any kids you might know to miss out on it. I had the privilege of seeing Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) while I was in college, and he is just as wonderful as I would have dreamed. He stole kids books, brooded, and paced. I loved it.

UPDATE: As of today, 111.93 lbs of books have been given away, donated, sold, or recycled.

P.S. I particularly love Children's Literature. Is that obvious yet?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Illustrated Shakespeare

The Globe Illustrated: The Complete Works (Annotated) by Shakespeare
Weight: 7.7 pounds
Method of Disposal: Giving to Vallan when she comes to watch my dogs for a few days

*I am sad to report that I have misplaced my camera and so could not post an original picture today. This is what the book looks like, but this image is from www.alibris.com.*

I have owned The Globe since I worked at Waldenbooks. It was too good to resist, a leather-bound, illustrated, massive book of Shakespeare. I had to have it. The only problem, of course, being that it is quite intimidating at 7.7 lbs and 2,364 pages. It looks like a large dictionary. Not to mention it is Shakespeare.

It is a wonderful idea, I am sure, but I will take my Shakespeare in one play (two plays if you want to push it) form from now on. It seems a little less overwhelming, and I enjoy it more. I have not read any since school, and I am not sure if I will return to it in the future. Of course, it is wonderful to read, but it is not really where I am at right now. It has not been one of my favorite things to read since High School and as I get older I just feel more and more distant for no good reason.

Luckily, there is still someone out there who cares about classic literature. I am giving this huge, honkin’ collection of rhymes, lyrics, and puns to Ms. Vallan as a thank you for watching the pups while I am away. She wanted it once, and I hope she still does.