Never tired of books. But, sometimes, made tired by books. Exhibit A:
This past Friday my friend and former classmade Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers came down for a little "book buying tour." Back in the late 1990s, we went on three or four such tours, intent on scouring as many used bookstores in a 60 or 70 mile radius as we could. The result: quite a few books and some long, cold stares from our much more responsible and reality-aware wives. But, after several years of laying low, we dared to try it again. We went to seven used bookstore (Rule #1: No Borders, B&N, Waldenbooks, etc., allowed). I came away with 29 books, give or take a few. I'm not sure what Deacon Harold ended up with, but let's just say his car's exhaust pipe was scraping the ground as he drove away.
Anyhow, in the course of our cerebral adventure, I noticed a few things of varying value and interest:
• Used bookstores that have espresso bars are a very good idea. Which is why Windows Booksellers has long been a favorite. You can even check out their inventory online. However, you have to come to Eugene to enjoy their excellent espresso.
• I like to try to mention to people that Deacon Harold and I are twins. For some reason, this is usually met with astonishment and disbelief. You would think that more people would be open to this sort of truth (you know, the untrue kind of truth) in a culture that thinks The Da Vinci Code is filled with historical fact and theological wisdom.
• It is quite rare to find any used Ignatius Press books. I bought one: Peter Kreeft's Prayer: The Great Conversation (only $3.95! And in great shape). However, every used bookstore we went too had about, oh, 300 or 400 Hans Küng books. I bet you can guess my theory on why that is the case. On a related note, I saw only one book by Joseph Ratzinger. But I don't know what it was since it was in German.
• Used bookstores in western Oregon tend to prominently feature works by Al Gore (a very reasonable and weathered author), Noam Chomsky (radical!), the Dalai Lama (ooommmmm), Bill ("Less Is") Moyer, anyone from the staff of The New York Times or The Washingon Post, and lots of books about goddesses, by goddesses, and for goddesses. Did you know that you are a goddess?! The people who work in these bookstores are generally neo-hippy in dress, rather quiet, moderately polite, and completely clueless when you ask, "Do you have have a separate section for Jean Danielou, or would he be in the section for Ressourcement theologians?" Alright, alright; I never ask that question. But you could ask that question and get a helpful answer...at Loome Theological Booksellers.
• I may be going to Windows Booksellers too often. One of the girls who works there started to ask me if I needed any assistance, then recognized me and said, "Oh, it's just you..." What do you think she meant by that? (Okay, that's what we call an apocryphal story. Created by the Carl-ohhine Community.)
• The only person who has more used books in the Christian section than Hans Küng is Rick Warren. What do you suppose that means?
• You know that you and your book-buying buddy might be geekish when you fight over a pristine used copy of Richard Cowden-Guido's John Paul II and the Battle for Vatican II—and you both already own copies of it.
• As proof for how openminded I like people to think I am: I bought books by Catholics, Evangelicals, a Jew (two books by Jacob Neusner), a Frenchman (Francois Mauriac; The Son of Man), and someone who may be Mormon, or at least sympathetic to Mormonism (Terryl L. Givens, author of By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion [Oxford, 2002]). Nothing by atheists, for the simple reason that I steal their books. And why not? If there is no God, no meaning, no morality, why bother paying for that stuff?
• Best find of the day: a first edition of Dorothy Sayers' Unpopular Opinions: Twenty-One Essays (1947), in very nice condition. It contains several essays that I'd not seen or read before.
• Funny moment: seeing books on "Jesus the Pharoah," "Jesus the Rabbi," "Jesus the Egyptian," and "Jesus the Pagan God" all within a few books of each other. Why not a book titled, Jesus: Egyptian Rabbi, Jewish Pharoah, and All Around Nice Pagan Guy? I'm sure Marcus Borg would love to write it, unless John Dominic Crossan beat him to it.
• Okay, I really do need to sleep now. It's 4:02 a.m., and I need to get up in a couple of hours. If only I had a bought a copy of Hans Küng's memoirs; it would put me to sleep in just a few sec—zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.