These are the literature of my mind’s growth, that did a mixed job of opening my mind, or telling me that what was already in there was A-okay.
The first book, my parents threw back at me, after one request too many, saying: Learn to read it yourself, ita. It’s getting boring. Heresy! My mother has never fully appreciated my reading choices. But I was reading myself to sleep before turning 4.
I found this for myself, during the most voracious/larcenous period of book leading. I’ve never managed that quantity again, but that might have something to do with a remarkable lack of discretion. But this book? Wow. I had friends in HS in Jamaica, and out of school, but it wasn’t based on things like “read the same books/comic” and “watched the same movie/TV”—it was just based on personality—ahh, the weird old days. Anyway—I found this book, and it was me all around. In terms of this sort of geekery, I had one friend who matched up with me, and luckily it was my BFF, R. He was willing to sit with me while I gushed, tearing opening my first D&D kit. He just wasn’t psyched. He was just a good friend. I do wonder if he’d have liked it—it was all about math and words—Norton wasn’t make it hard to read between the lines and tell that it was a textbook, as well as teaching social behaviour and problem solving. That was my pre-teen sweet spot. I was painfully literal at times, so that angle appealed a great deal. Take a bored kid, and teach him the joys of treating language and numbers with respect and not a little joy—I ain’t gonna lie—the closet to Narnia or the invite to Hogwards might be cool, but I KNOW I want the box with the tollbooth, and a free afternoon
This is the payoff. I’m really only in love with the first four books of the trilogy, but I’d have been happy with just the one. If you’ve read it, you likely understand. If you don’t like, or haven’t read it, there’s not much I can say to explain myself. Just—Douglas Adams was a master. Never before have I seen a more beautiful (conventional literature rules followed to a tee) that lead up to a slapstick comedic ending, or maybe just a slap. This was the culmination of the validation by strangers. Douglas Adams said I was okay, so you know what? I’m not explaining myself to you. Read the book. Second only in in joke quotes to The Princess Bride¹
BOOM! Man, this dude’s Incompleteness Theorem eat at least one semester of my life, perhaps even a year. We were all reading it, handing around the same tattering copy, until someone decided to inject another one into the mix. K and I got so obsessive we took a Graduate level philosophy class because the whole thing was about the theorem. Can you dig that? One semester, one theorem, a theorem that we loved, and a theorem we at least had gotten from one angle, and now we want more. Oh, also—Escher is a great guy to beak your mind without words, and I don’t know jack, musically, about Bach versus Beethoven, but sometimes I like to read music, because it’s pretty. It’s another way to write maths, see? And it has sounds??? It’s a Christmas miracle.
You won’t find all these books on my bookshelves, or all of these books on my Nook. But between the both I have them all. Also, in my heart.
¹: Yes, this is a favourite book (along with A Prayer For Owen Meany), and it is illustrative of me in that I love it so much, and find a way to describe me or the situation with quote after quote. Fucking hysterical, and also sad. But it’s not a blow by blow literary story of how I brane.