Category Archives: Books

Challenge the Banned

The week of September 27 – October 3 is banned books week. Twitter has been filled with funny tweets from publishers and readers alike. Libraries have set out the books banned in the past, front and center for you to read a “banned book”.

It seems ridiculous really, the idea of banning a book, to me anyway. In school, had I been told that I could not read a book, the first thing I would have done was have my mother find it for me so that I could read it. My mom knew better than to tell me that I couldn’t read something, because then I would have had my grandmother go out and find it for me so that I could read it.

We can look back at the past and laugh on the idiosyncrasies of the times before us. They were naïve, they didn’t know any better, or it was just the world they lived in.

But.

Even today, we have schools and parents who challenge books. You can find a list of them here. In a world that parents turn a blind eye and let kids flaunt themselves in public, on social media, they get their pants in a twist because their children could be reading something that would dirty their minds.

Preposterous.

I understand censoring for age-appropriateness, I wouldn’t read to my six-year-old a book in the age group for my 12-year-old, nor would I read a book full of sex to my 12-year old. As their parent, that is my job. Emphasis on the word my.

The world is a fishbowl of situations and people. We do not all fit into a mass mold, and we cannot expect our children to come from the same generic template either. They have to be able to read about situations that they ever never had to experience firsthand.

It seems the books on this list were banned because the subjects/topics that were written about made someone uncomfortable. Let’s take To Kill a Mockingbird for example (it is the most recent that I’ve read); it has been called degrading, full of profane and racist language and actions, and so much more.

This book was so much more than about race; it was also about the integrity of the human race – or lack of in some cases, prejudice, poverty, discrimination and the fact that we struggle to see past our own front yard some days.

But it was a good book. Not because it was full of happy go lucky times, not because it took me to a different time and made me feel good. No, in fact, many scenes made my stomach twist up in a sickening rage. It took me to a time and a place that was uncomfortable. It made me see things through a different point of view.

This hasn’t been a book that my eldest has had to read for school yet, I wonder if it will be on the list at some point. There have been others that bring light to uncomfortable circumstances. It is not taught so that they grow up and become like what they read in the book. No, it is to bring light to situations that are gritty and controversial so that maybe our kids can learn from them. Be better because of them.

I will never understand the idea of banning or challenging a book. Everyone needs to be able to read an experience for themselves. The idea of a school or a person telling me what my kids can or cannot read would tick me off.

The idea of being told what I should or should not write about would tick me off. The world isn’t a neat little package, wrapped up waiting for us like on Christmas morning. Therefore, we shouldn’t have to write like that either. And by banning a book, isn’t that what they are trying to say/do? Tell us that we shouldn’t have written about that.

Check out these websites to view the different lists of banned or challenged books.

Here is a list of Banned Books that Shaped America: (The bolded ones are books that reside on my bookshelf.)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965 (Grove Press)

Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1987

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown, 1970

The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903

Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway, 1940

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

Howl, Allen Ginsberg, 1956In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1966

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1906

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855

Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Herman Melville,1851

Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940

Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, 1971

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, 1895

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred C. Kinsey, 1948

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein, 1961

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, 1947

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, 1963

The Words of Cesar Chavez, Cesar Chavez, 2002

 

What is your favorite banned/challenged book? Let me know down in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~AJP

Check out these websites to view the different lists of banned or challenged books.

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/

A Creator of Words

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to Live.” – Albus Dumbledore

  

This past weekend, I skipped my writer’s group meeting so that my husband and I could take our kids to see a showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in theatres. I know, I know, skipping a writing meeting is generally unheard of.

But… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was showing in the theatre. That hasn’t happened since 2001!

Now, my kids have grown up with a mother who absolutely loves all things Harry Potter, so this was not the first time that they have seen this movie. Nor was it the second, third, fourth, or… you get the idea. But it was the first time they were able to experience it on the big screen.

And they were amazed.

The first time I saw this movie was the weekend that it was released. My husband (then fiancé) and I were joining part of my family for a movie night, and at the time this was the only interesting kid friendly movie showing. I had never heard of this Harry Potter and his magical world and just needed something that my (under ten) siblings could agree on. They are now in their 20’s and probably do not even remember going. Later that same weekend, I drug my mother and another younger sibling to see it. After that, the rest was history.

We immediately went out and purchased the first book. As in the next day. A few days later, we bought the second. And so on. The movie had been spectacular, but the books were/are better. By the time the series was fully released, I had babies of my own. My son has his own collection of the books and the movies, and I have a collection of the books saved for my daughter for when she is able to read them on her own.

Now, I am sure there is someone out there that didn’t care for the series, but I haven’t met them yet. As I am also aware that there are plenty of people who liked the series, read them, even watched the movies and that was that. It was just another book/movie for them.  I have read or listened on audio to the series more times than I care to share with you.

Everyone is different. There are those who fall back on Shakespeare, Austen, Fitzgerald, Tolkien; there is a creator of words out there for anyone and everyone. You just have to be willing to find who speaks the loudest to you. Me, I’m just a Rowling girl.

One day, one of us might become one of those authors for someone. One never knows.

Who/what speaks the loudest to you? Let me know down in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~AJP

Are You Reading?

The MORE that you Read,
the more THINGS you will KNOW.
The MORE you LEARN,
the more PLACES you’ll GO!
~Dr. Seuss

It’s not a secret that I love to read (mentioned in a previous post). And to write, you have to read.

Here lately, I find myself reading probably more than I do anything else. While I work, I listen to e-audio books on my iPad, instead of music. I have three (very thick and large) school books that I read during my breaks, lunch and after work & class. On the nights that I do not have class, I read to my youngest – right now we are on a Halloween and Christmas kick. And then I try and get in a few minutes of non-homework reading right before bed.

I am also not one to stick to reading one book at a time either. At any given time, I could be reading one to five books at a time. This might seem like too much to some, but it works for me. There are days where a story just doesn’t hold my interest, but calls me back to it another day.

And I will admit, finding these e-book audios on the library’s website has saved my sanity at work. A person can only listen to music for so long before the singing starts to wear on ones nerves.

Right now I am listening to…

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (I have been rereading the series with a friend of mine who has never read them before! I know, I know. How could one have never read these before? It is not from lack of trying on my part.)

And I am reading…

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

So what are you reading right now? Let me know down in the comments, I love seeing what others are reading.

Till next time,
~AJP

6 Things Every Booklover Knows

Since Jesi wrote yesterday’s post on how you have to write to be a writer, and my writing life hasn’t been at it’s strongest these last few weeks, I chose to make today’s post about another vital component in the life of a writer. Yep, you guessed from the title, it’s reading.

Stephen King has one of my favorite quotes on the interconnectedness of being a good writer and being a committed reader.

Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.

– Stephen King

Of course I was a booklover long before I became a writer. I loved books for as long as I can remember. I can remember wanting to run away and live in a museum when I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in elementary school. I can remember my favorite part of the day when my fifth grade teacher would sit and read to us from Shel Silverstein’s collections of poems. I can remember sitting in my sophomore English class, reading silently with all the others, but forgetting where I was as I cried reading the end of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. I remember the all the joys of discovering new favorite authors and series along the way and the accompanying thrill of falling into new worlds and lives of interesting characters.

So what does every true booklover know about themselves and the greatness that is being a bibliophile?

1) There is NO SUCH THING as too many books.

Any true booklover knows that it’s impossible to have too many books. Our TBR list (to be read list) is always overflowing. Our bookshelves are always crammed full and double stacked. Our storage spaces frequently have more books that couldn’t fit on the bookshelves. Our friends don’t like to help us move because we are “book people” – thus we have many boxes that are super heavy. We download books on our kindles. We carry books around with us when we go to the doctor or the mechanic or the Sunday morning breakfast place that always has a wait. We ask our friends for book recommendations. We get books for our birthday or Christmas presents because our friend’s know we will love them. We love to spend time at the bookstore looking for something new, even when we have a hundred other books we still have yet to read. We can just never have too many books. 🙂

2) Just one more chapter almost NEVER means just one more chapter.

We stay up way too late, way too often because we just have to see what happens next. We tell ourselves just one more chapter, but we know this is a lie. We read one more chapter and then we know we need another and another and when the writer is really good we have to finish it all. Being swept away, as King says, is one of the joys of reading because even if we can’t literally escape our lives, we can disappear into another life whenever we want to pick up a good book.

3) Emotional trauma at the end of a good book or series is REAL.

When we find a good book or series, we have the inevitable conflict where we both want to finish it, but also really don’t want to finish it. We can’t wait to find a new favorite book or series but then when it is over, we wish we could find it again for the first time. We are reluctant to leave a world or a character so much so that we frequently have to return, sometimes again and again, but still the sadness of no new material like it can be heartbreaking.

4) The book is ALWAYS better.

We booklovers know that the book is always better than a movie or TV adaptation. We know it is hard to let go of the sheer volume of detail in the books, the ideas we have about those details, and the attachment we have to all the details. A movie cuts a major character. Unforgiveable. A TV show takes the series in a whole different direction that the books have taken you. Not unexpected but frequently disappointing. However faithful the movie/TV/whatever is to the books, the books are always better.

5) A good book can come in ALL shapes and sizes and formats.

Booklovers know that it doesn’t really matter if the book is traditionally printed, independently printed, electronically printed, 1000 pages, 5o pages, paperback, trade paperback, hard cover or coffee table sized, we love them all. Sure we may have our preference, maybe we even hold strong opinions about which are better than the other, but we book lovers will always come together on that big thing we can all agree upon, a lifelong love of books.

6) A good book CAN change your life.

We booklovers know the power that books have had in our lives. We have seen the impact books have had on those around us. We find truth in books that we may not be able to find in other places. We seek comfort in the books we read. We laugh, we cry, we get angry, and we get scared. We get new information, we get new ideas, and we get inspiration from the pages of good books. We find others who share the same love. We find places we want to explore, foods we would like to taste, and things we’d like try. We learn about ourselves and others. And sometimes we find a book has changed our life.

Are you a booklover? Any of these sound like you? Is there something I’ve left off the list? Please tell me about it in the comments. Thanks for reading and have a good week!

~CJS

Unemotionally Attached

I am sitting here with absolutely nothing to post about today. My mind has been preoccupied with new and old story lines, trying to edit something for an upcoming workshop, and dealing with Month End issues at work. So as I sit here, wracking my brain with something – anything- to blog about, my mind keeps going back to CJ’s post yesterday.

It was a good post, and I loved reading her point of view on the matter regarding the recent publication of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. CJ linked to some great articles giving you an insight on the drama that has been circled around Ms. Lee here of late.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that a lot of people hold dear, something they remember fondly reading while growing up. So the idea of this new book painting Atticus as a different man than he was in TKAM is unfathomable to some.

But what if you don’t hold To Kill a Mockingbird dear?

I don’t.

Up until a year ago, I never put much thought into the book other than it was a classic that I would get around to reading someday. Then last year at the end of a writers meeting with my group, Joe mentioned that his favorite novel of all time was To Kill a Mockingbird, we discussed it for a minute before departing and that was it.

Then over the holidays, I was out with my grandfather and we were browsing the books when we came across a used copy for a dollar and he said he remembered reading it when he was younger. I asked what he thought about it and he encouraged me to buy the book and find out for myself. So I bought the book and proceeded to shelve it.

Now I am not sure if he came across one of the many news articles about Harper Lee and her books recently or not, but he asked the other day if he could borrow the book from me. Seeing as how I still hadn’t read it, I figured I needed to do so quickly so that he can have a go. Then I mentioned to my grandmother about Go set a Watchman being released and all of the negativity surrounding it. We decided to read To Kill a Mockingbird together since she hadn’t read it in so long and, well, since I still hadn’t read it at all.

After we finish TKAM, we will probably read Go Set a Watchman together.

If the articles are true and that Ms. Lee was not of sound mind in letting this “draft” be published, then that’s a damn shame. But. What if she was? None of us really know except for Harper Lee herself.

I am not emotionally attached to either of these books in any way. After all is said and done, I probably will be, but come on, I am reading them with my grandparents – who both read To Kill a Mockingbird willingly as adults when it was first released. How cool is that? And now I will get to share Go set a Watchman with them too. We might hate it. We might not. No one can find out until they read it.

So now that I’ve got CJ and JesiKay shaking their heads at me… What are your thoughts on the matter? Share with us in the comments, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

~AJP

(Once I finish To Kill a Mocking bird AND Go Set a Watchman, I’ll let you know if I loved/hated either of them.)

10 Random but Awesome Gifts for the Bibliophile

My son just celebrated his tenth birthday today (and hubby and I are having a glass of wine celebrating a whole decade of being parents – woot woot). For his party, parents of friends attending inevitably ask what the birthday boy is into right now for possible gift ideas. It got me started thinking of gift ideas for myself, because, hey, I can’t help myself sometimes, and I do have a landmark birthday coming up before long (cough cough The Big 4-0 cough cough). For me, and for many bookish people, you can NEVER go wrong with anything book related. Thus, this random list of awesome gifts for your favorite bibliophile.

1) Maurauder’s Map Blanket (Amazon) Oh I solemnly swear I would be up to no good if someone decided to gift me with this!  What Harry Potter fan wouldn’t love to snuggle up under this blanket?

2) Where the Wild Things Are Coffee Mug (CaféPress) Let the Wild Rumpus Start! I don’t care how old you are, Max’s line from Where the Wild Things Are is still one of the coolest ever for most any occasion. 😉

3) Law office of Atticus Finch tshirt (Amazon) Some serious bibliophiles might say (not necessarily me, but some might 😉 ) : If your friends don’t get it, then they aren’t really your friends.

4) I’d Rather Be Reading Tote Bag (Barnes and Noble) The tote bag that says what we are all thinking, which can also conveniently carry our inevitable collection of way too many new books to possibly read (which nevertheless demand to be purchased).

5) Magnetic Poetry Kit Book Lover Edition (GoneReading.com) Magnetic Poetry kits are always a win with most bookish types, but then add in a nod to our passion for all things books – yes, we have a winner. I think many a bibliophile would need this in their life. I am certainly thinking I may need one. 🙂

6) We’re All A Little Mad Here Alice in Wonderland book locket (Amazon) Alice in Wonderland has many quotable quotes but this one is very popular and seems an especially apt description for quite a few of us book lovers. I know it applies to me!

7) The Strand Classic Tshirt (StrandBooks.com) What book lover doesn’t love exploring and supporting the unique bookshops? Grab a tee from a cool shop in NY as a gift and your bibliophile friend will love you. By the way, I’d like to do a tour of cool US bookshops (for starters, I’m willing to go international at some point too!) – so who’s with me?

8) Banned Book Coffee Mug (ShopPBS.org) Quick way to make a book lover’s blood boil? Talk about banning books! But since we know no one who loves us would do such a thing, why not show your love and get us a coffee mug decorated with a whole bunch of famous banned books? Bonus if you buy from the PBS website. 🙂

9) And Though She Be But Little She Is Fierce necklace (Amazon.com) Many Shakespeare related gifts will do but Shakespeare plus jewelry seems a good way to go, don’t you think?

10) Keep Mr. Grey, I’ll Stick With Mr. Darcy tote bag (Zazzle.com) Any day of the week and twice on Sunday would most true book lovers take Darcy over Grey. No contest.

So these 10 items just barely scratch the surface of the many, many, many wonderful bookish gifts one could possibly give or receive, but they were some that caught my fancy. Which of these do you like/need for your life to be complete? What about your favorite bibliophile gift ideas? Have you any suggestions for gifts for the book-lover type? Please share in the comments. Have a great week! ~CJS

Getting Graphic with Your Work

My friend and fellow blogger over at Mad Genius Club, Cedar Sanderson, has been doing a series of posts on cover creation. Today, she tackles not only that but postcards and bookmarks as well. So, with her permission, I’m reposting it here since it is something we all need to keep in mind as we look at ways to promote our work. You can find her other posts on the topic here and here.

Getting Graphic With Your Work by Cedar Sanderson

And I’m not talking about describing the gory bits in gruesome detail. No, I had planned to do a walk-through tutorial today about creating a logo for your writing business. I hadn’t anticipated two things. One, to do a proper logo you need to create a vector file rather than image or illustration. I’ll get into what that means when I do the post – for today it matters because a week ago I ended my subscription to the full Adobe Creative Cloud, dropping back to Photoshop and Lightroom, and that means I don’t have Adobe Illustrator for showing how to do a logo. Which isn’t a bad thing, because most of you don’t have that, either, or you wouldn’t be asking me to show you how to do this. I did a little research, and downloaded Inkscape, the cousin of my favorite freeware graphic program, Gimp. Then I ran into the second thing I hadn’t planned on. You see, I’m getting married next week. I’m also traveling for several days attendant to that. I am afraid I ran out of time this week to teach myself Inkscape and create a tutorial. So! I put together some odds and ends of graphic design projects that can be useful to you all, and one that I was specifically asked for. I will be around to chat in comments, so feel free to ask questions. Oh, and Amanda wanted me to point out that things I discuss in this post, like guides and flattening layers, are pertinent to those of you working on print covers. So pay attention!

Postcards and Bookmarks

Having something to hand to someone who is interested in your book is a great thing. You can, of course, default to a standard business card, nothing wrong with that. You can do a lot with those. But today I’m going to talk specifically about the layout and requirements of the bigger, more art-heavy promo material. I take them with me to conventions to sign for people who own my ebooks but want a signature. I hand them out to… anyone who remotely looks interested when I say that I am an author. I give my local libraries packets of 50 bookmarks to keep with all the others on their counter. I can mail the postcards to libraries, schools, and other venues and promote myself and my books (I rarely actually do that, but it’s a possibility).

While you are shopping for a printer, you will discover that there are a lot of variations in size available. I’m using a 4×6 inch postcard, the standard size, for this batch. I may switch it up with the next one. Book marks can be laid out in the same way, so I won’t cover them individually now.

In Gimp, open a new file. Set the size to 4 inches by 6 inches (or what your printer requires), and then drop the Advanced Menu down, and set the dpi to 300 or 400. Do not leave it at 72 dpi, the default, as this will be rejected by any reputable printer and will look terrible if printed. Now that you have your new file open, pay attention to the print requirements for bleed. You will want there to be no live elements (important text or graphics) within 0.25 inches of the edges. You can click on the rulers at the left side and top and drag what is called a ‘guide’ to mark  your bleed area so you don’t put something there by accident.

I chose to lay out this postcard with three covers and represent my Pixie trilogy. I would not put more than four covers on a card, you don’t want it to appear cluttered. postcard layout

Open as Layers (found in the File menu dropdown) the covers or art you want to use. I generally use a jpg or png version of the covers so I don’t have to manage umpteen zillion layers in GIMP. Scale the covers to the desired size, you can do this easily with a right-click on the image and selecting Scale Layer. Using the move tool, place the art where you think you want it. Keep in mind you may have to move it again. This card was designed to have text on the front and a blank back, but you will note there is not a lot of text. This is a tool to interest them in what you have to offer, enough that they will take the next step. In the highlighted box, I have my website address. In the other corner, I have a QR code. These are scannable with a smartphone or tablet: this particular code will take them to Pixie Noir’s Amazon sales page, where they can look inside and read the sample. I want them there so they can buy as soon as I hook them.

When you’re ready to print, you will save this file as a pdf, just as you did for the cover for print. Make sure when you do so that you first merge all the layers, but save your work before you start this process. If you look closely at the screenshot above, you will see several layers of images, text, and other elements. All of those need to be flattened, or bad things can happen in the printing process. Right click on each layer thumbnail and select ‘merge down’ from the menu. DO NOT SAVE your xcf file at this point! You want to preserve all your xcf (Gimp) files for later. I’ll show you why in a minute. Now that you have everything smooshed, drop down the File Menu and select Export. Export your file as a pdf. Close your file and click discard changes.

Batch-Editing Art and Covers

This last week I had a chance to help out a friend who was in a bind. He had commissioned art for the covers of several stories, but they lacked a unifying element to tie the series together, and he wasn’t sure what to do to further signal his specific genre with the typography. This is not something many of you will ever have to do, most of us deal with one book at a time, but there are occasions when it’s a useful task, such as aligning covers for a series. And I told Dave I’d show how I did it, so he can tackle it himself if it happens again.

What I did was to open the first layer of artwork and lay the text out on it, along with the graphic unifying element (tentacles, to signal Lovecraftian cthuloid elements in the stories).

I’ll explain how I added the tentacles. After poring through the Dollar Photo Club for something suitable, I came up with the illustration below.

 

This is an illustration rather than a vector, which is better, but it will work.

The first thing you need to do is right-click the layer thumbnail in the righthand window, and look at the bottom of the menu, where you will choose ‘add alpha channel’ which allows you to have a transparency rather than white (default) background. Then I chose the ‘select’ menu, and then ‘select by color’ and clicked on the black around the octopus. Then I clicked on delete and eliminated all the black, leaving a suitable graphic.

The graphic element, I can now manpulate it without overlying it's background on the art.

Finally, I had one cover laid out with title, author name, and graphic unifying element (hereafter GUE).

Note all the layers in the righthand window.

Choose ‘Save as” from the file menu and name the file appropriately. Save it as an XCF file for now, you may need to manipulate it again. You will note the GUE is seen in the upper left and lower right corners. I had put just a little bit showing, and changed the mode (see top of righthand window, above opacity) of the layer to make it look like I wanted. Experiment with this, dodge, burn, lighten… powerful effects here.

Now that I’m happy with the fonts, layout, and this cover, I can move onto the next one. I simply click the little eye next to the layer thumbnail and make the art disappear. Eventually I will delete the unused layers, but I want all of them right now in case I need to make changes.

Layers

The art isn’t gone, it’s just not showing on the work area any longer.

I've already altered the title, and the GUE, the author's name I don't touch.

Now I go up and open the art for this cover from the File>Open as Layers menu. You may need to drag the art layer thumbnail in the righthand window down, until it is under the other elements. You may also need to scale it so it is the same size as the background you see above. Play around with your GUE layer some more, until it looks right on the art.

What the final product of another cover in the same series looks like

Using Save As, name and save this file, then repeat with changing the title and the art for each cover you are doing. Dave had six, but it took very little time once I had every thing set up to manipulate the art and GUE under the layers of the text and modifying elements (drop shadows and that sort of thing).

Can You Have Too Many Books?

LOTSA BOOKS

Some people say that you can never be too rich or too thin. Some people who like to read (and maybe write, too) say that you can never have too many books.

Well, I’ve heard of people who are too rich. Take the Kardashians. Or how about Paris Hilton? They’ve got so much money they don’t know what the hell to do with themselves! “I’m bored. Let’s release another video of ourselves having sex.” Yeah, they have too much money.

And, c’mon! Of course you can be too thin. I know people who are really proud of the weight they just dropped, but I don’t want to tell them that they may have overdone it. I feel like force-feeding them some cheeseburgers.

And I know that you can have too many books. I found that out because I’m packing to move. We’re heading to Florida. Sun, beaches and Mickey Mouse.

Now, I already knew that I had a large amount of books. But I found that I had a staggering amount of books. As they were coming off of the shelves and being boxed, I suddenly realized that I could not take all of these books with me! I had twenty, thirty, and then forty boxes of books. I was like some insane book hoarder. Some were already in boxes, piled up in a large closet because I didn’t have enough book shelves for them. I had books that I’d had since 1967! It was time to admit some of them had to go.

Wow! Now the big decision. Which ones? I started to go through them and saw a few, right away, that I realized I could part with. I’m an airplane nut so a lot of my library is about aviation. But, even the most avid airplane nut doesn’t need ten books about the P-51 Mustang. So I started thinning the herd by cutting down on some of the redundancy. There was a lot of it. That helped a little bit, but it was only a dent. I had to start getting really serious. Cold blooded. None of that, “Oh but I always liked that book. I can’t part with it.” I already read it. Will I read it again? Probably not. It goes.

But, goes where? My wife was having a garage sale, so I started there. I sold a few, but not enough. And so I hauled four boxes of books into my SUV and headed down to Half Price Books.

I heard, “Joe to the counter! We have your offer.” I went, hopefully and naively toward the call. Eleven dollars and fifty cents! Four boxes of books? Eleven dollars and fifty cents? That was barely going to pay for lunch. Oh what the hell. I thought about carrying those heavy cardboard boxes back to the car. I took the money and walked off grumbling.

A few days later my wife had a doctor’s appointment in downtown Fort Worth. We decided to take some books to the big Half Price Books down there. Man, that place is big. Maybe I’d get a better deal there.

Three boxes of books. Seven dollars and thirty cents. Grumbling once again, I took the cash.

So, even with the garage sale, the theiv…I mean, Half Price Books and giving a few away, I’m still hauling a lot of literature to the Sunshine State. I don’t know…maybe I’ll put some on E-Bay once I’m down there. My wife wants to sit out back one night, at our new home, and have a big bonfire. She wants to roast marshmallows to the sound of flames crackling over burning paper. I think she’s kidding. I think.

So, in answer to my question…can you have too many books? Hell yeah!