Five books that made me

As the American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote (or so the various quote websites have us believe),“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” So it is with me. books picture

A confirmed bibliophile, I may not be a surprising case, but I’ll never forget one of my co-workers at Lowes. An older man with rough hands, worn blue jeans, and work boots, he rasped contracting stories in a cigaret-stained voice about “idiots who didn’t know shit about construction.” 

But one day, during his break, when I was reading Don Quixote over a turkey sandwich, he sat down and started talking about books. Books he read in school, like Hemingway, Austen, Faulkner, and Dickens. Books his wife read, like Jody Piccoult and John Grisham. Books his father gave him, worn how-to manuals and beat-up hardcovers gathered from outdated encyclopedia sets.

“I miss reading,” he said, leaning back in his metal fold-out chair. “I miss the stories.”

Soon, I went back to the registers, thinking about it. Probably nothing would happen. But a few weeks later, he came in and pulled out a worn copy of the The Old Man and the Sea.

“My favorite,” he said. “I’ve never forgotten this book.”

Since then, I haven’t either.

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Travel

I just got back from a few days on the road. I spent some time with friends and canoed for a bit, then stayed with an old friend (from fourth grade) in Cornell since Sunday. He’s an RA there and is spending the week looking after the seniors before the graduate. Really, he just wants to see his girlfriend, I think.  

It gave me time to break my stagnation at home and sketch a few ideas for another essay. I hope to start it soon–ideally tomorrow. I finished some major edits on a short story today and hope to send that out as well. Writing, reading, traveling, writing. It seems like there should be formula somewhere. 

As I sketch out my essay and review the notes I made during my trip, I hope to write more about travel, but in the mean time, here’s a sketch since I haven’t posted in a few days. 

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