Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday May 24, 2015



The Sunday Series:

Sunday May 24, 2015


Books.  I have a lot of books.  Every book I have is a great book.  But due to space and finances, I need to surrender some of my books to the outside world.  I set this Sunday to make final choices.  Which books to keep and to give-up.  The truth is I don't want to give up any of my books.  If I could, I would keep my books intact as a collection.  So when I die, it will be either sold or put up in a museum as the "Tosh Collection."   I'm one of the few that believe that looking at someone's bookshelf, you are truly seeking a self -portrait of that individual.  Clothing is another option, but in reality, it is the book that you read, that makes you what you are. 

The first book I became aware of is more likely one of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum.  The need to go somewhere else, or anywhere else from home, is a pleasant way to see the world, as imagined by another person.   I set my work space, or writing- room, as a window or a port to travel.    What I fear now, is to get rid of a book, that may be a passage to the other world.  Once gone, I'll be stuck here, sitting in front of this Macbook Pages application.  



I have quite a few of P.G. Wodehouse titles, and through those books, I'm exposed to a world that is much better than mine.   I have often tried to visualize having Jeeves at my service.  My needs are taken care of in such a fine manner, that I don't even have to ring the bell that is placed on my work table.  He knows when to arrive, and I can sit here and just 'desire' something.  

Tearing this collection apart is like death.  A young man wouldn't have to do this, but as one gets older, they have to inventory their goods - and decide what must go and what must stay.   I then had the thought of photographing every book I own - just the cover.  That way, if I'm on a trip outside my house, I can in a sense carry my collection with me.  Logically I can't re-read the books, so do I keep them?  



I would say third of my collection are used or second-hand books.  For each used book, I think who owned it, and why they had to let it go.  The most common, especially if they're vintage paperbacks, were owned by a student.  Most, if not all, are underlined in specific sections - more likely used for a classroom.  Then there are books that are clearly owned by an older individual.   One wonders if death came upon them, and the family sold the books to the second-hand shop.  And since I own books that the original publication goes back to the twenties - all those must have been touched by the once-living.  I feel that way about vinyl albums and 45rpm singles as well.  There is not only history in the grooves and paper, but also surrounding the object.  



When I go to a used bookstore and they have new stock, I can tell it came from a specific collection.   Especially when you notice new titles in the poetry section.  Readers tend to stay with a certain school of poetry.   I was intrigued some years back, when I came upon a lot of French Surrealist poetry on the shelves.  I became curious to know who the original owner of these titles.  The bookshop owner didn't want to give out a name, but told me he was a TV producer, who created "Father Knows Best."    I didn't need to know more.  I was satisfied that a reader of Surrealist poetry, was also the mastermind of an all-American inane family living in the suburb of everyday 1950s America.   


As I'm about to give up my book collection, I have to decide to either open up my own library - or to toss it out to the world.  I have come to the conclusion, that when I die, I will give my house to the town of Silver Lake, where my belongs and books will stay intact.  There will be a $5 admission to keep the property and home in a good shape.   The "Tosh Berman Library" will be used for scholars as well as the 'everyday' curious to see what my life was like, which is basically the reflection of the books that I own.  


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