When I was young we would sometimes head to my grandparent’s house and spend the night. They had a guest bedroom that my brother and I would sleep in. A shelf mounted above the bed contained a bunch of books. The books on that shelf rarely changed. There was probably a time when I knew them all. They all seemed mysterious to me, but even so, I would occasionally pull one down to look at it, curious lad that I was.
A few of these books still stick in my memory. There was an old book on the automobile and the workings of a standard automobile engine. I’d guess the book was published in the 1940s or 1950s. My grandfather was a mechanic. With three of his brothers, he owned and operated a service station in the Bronx. I assumed the book was related to the business. I was curious about how cars worked and I remember skimming that book several times. I wish I could remember the title.
Also on the shelf was an omnibus edition of George Burns’ books. I can’t remember which of his books were included in that edition, but I remember skimming through that book as well. A lot of this skimming was done at night when I was supposed to be asleep, and I remember having to suppress laughter while reading that book. Decades later, I came across used copies of a few of George Burns’ books in the Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood. I read those books with delight, and remembered the days when I would read Burns on the sly.
My grandfather had a copy of The Sensuous Dirty Old Man by Dr. “A”. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dr. “A” was Isaac Asimov. I never read the book, but I remember seeing it there on the shelf among the other books. I eventually inherited the book and it is part of my rather extensive collection of Asimov books.
There were two other books on the shelf that stand out in my memory. One of them was Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. I always wanted to read that book (attracted by the word “future”), but I never did. I imagine it would be dated today, and yet I am tempted to read it still.
The other book was The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough. I did not know it was by McCullough; I looked that up just now. This one caught my eye because I liked the name of it. It sounded interesting, but again, I never read it. I remember it being a fairly thick book, and I have always been attracted to really big books.
Written on May 17, 2022.
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The Thorn Birds… that was a big mini-series on TV when we were young… Richard Chamberlain, i think. I remember my dad watching it, and me knowing I had something better to do…