And if our book consumption remains as low as it has been, at least let us admit that it is because reading is a less exciting pastime than going to the dogs, the pictures or the pub, and not because books, whether bought or borrowed, are too expensive.
I used to read in books how our fathers persecuted mankind. But I never appreciated it. I did not really appreciate the infamies that have been committed in the name of religion, until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used. I saw the Thumbscrew—two little pieces of iron, armed on the inner surfaces with protuberances, to prevent their slipping; through each end a screw uniting the two pieces. And when some man denied the efficacy of baptism, or may be said, 'I do not believe that a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from drowning,' then they put his thumb between these pieces of iron and in the name of love and universal forgiveness, began to screw these pieces together. When this was done most men said, 'I will recant.' Probably I should have done the same. Probably I would have said: 'Stop; I will admit anything that you wish; I will admit that there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit yourselves; but stop.'But there was now and then a man who would not swerve the breadth of a hair. There was now and then some sublime heart, willing to die for an intellectual conviction. Had it not been for such men, we would be savages to-night. Had it not been for a few brave, heroic souls in every age, we would have been cannibals, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our flesh, dancing around some dried snake fetich.Let us thank every good and noble man who stood so grandly, so proudly, in spite of opposition, of hatred and death, for what he believed to be the truth.Heroism did not excite the respect of our fathers. The man who would not recant was not forgiven. They screwed the thumbscrews down to the last pang, and then threw their victim into some dungeon, where, in the throbbing silence and darkness, he might suffer the agonies of the fabled damned. This was done in the name of love—in the name of mercy, in the name of Christ.I saw, too, what they called the Collar of Torture. Imagine a circle of iron, and on the inside a hundred points almost as sharp as needles. This argument was fastened about the throat of the sufferer. Then he could not walk, nor sit down, nor stir without the neck being punctured, by these points. In a little while the throat would begin to swell, and suffocation would end the agonies of that man. This man, it may be, had committed the crime of saying, with tears upon his cheeks, 'I do not believe that God, the father of us all, will damn to eternal perdition any of the children of men.'I saw another instrument, called the Scavenger's Daughter. Think of a pair of shears with handles, not only where they now are, but at the points as well, and just above the pivot that unites the blades, a circle of iron. In the upper handles the hands would be placed; in the lower, the feet; and through the iron ring, at the centre, the head of the victim would be forced. In this condition, he would be thrown prone upon the earth, and the strain upon the muscles produced such agony that insanity would in pity end his pain.I saw the Rack. This was a box like the bed of a wagon, with a windlass at each end, with levers, and ratchets to prevent slipping; over each windlass went chains; some were fastened to the ankles of the sufferer; others to his wrists. And then priests, clergymen, divines, saints, began turning these windlasses, and kept turning, until the ankles, the knees, the hips, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists of the victim were all dislocated, and the sufferer was wet with the sweat of agony. And they had standing by a physician to feel his pulse. What for? To save his life? Yes. In mercy? No; simply that they might rack him once again.This was done, remember, in the name of civilization; in the name of law and order; in the name of mercy; in the name of religion; in the name of Christ.
I love so many books and authors that it's hard to name just a few, but I'm always particularly excited when new books by Alice Hoffman, John Crowley, Joanne Harris, Elizabeth Knox, and Patricia McKillip come out. (And, of course, books by Ellen [Kushner], and Holly [Black], and the rest of the Bordertown crew!) I'm impatiently looking forward to Susanna Clarke's next book too.Aside from writing and reading, my favorite things to do are paint, walk in the countryside with my dog, and listen to music -- especially when it's live and it's played by friends. Fortunately there's a lot of live music where I live.
There was a book shelf in our living room with books that were left on it by my dad who was a big tough guy fan. So you would find your Mickey Spillane there. So I'm literally a nine year old kid reading Mickey Spillane and my father is very upset because of the dirty parts you know. The naked parts.
Books whose topics I thoroughy depsise are accapteble because they often force the reader to think and to examine his own beliefs. In an age where most people are either blindly obedient or radical, exposing oneself to the ideas contained in even the most controversial of books is a good thing.
Reading, for me, is like this: consumptive, pleasing, calming, as much as edifying. It's how I feel after a good dinner. That's why I do it so often: It feels wonderful. The book is mind and I insert myself into it, cover it entire, ear my way through every last slash and dot. That's something you can do with a book, unlike television or movies or the Internet. You can eat it, or mark it, like a dog does on a hydrant.
If I am alive this is my book, and my father lives now in the afterlife that is a book, a thing not vague or virtual but something you can hold and feel and smell because to my mind heaven like life must be a thing sensual and real. And my book will be a river and have the Salmon literal and metaphoric leaping inside it and be called History of the Rain, so that his book does not perish, and you will know my book exists because of him and because of his books and his aspiration to leap up, to rise. You will know that I found him in his books, in the covers his hands held, the pages they turned, in the paper and the print, but also in the worlds those books contained, where now I have been and you have been too. You will know the story goes from the past to the present and into the future, and like a river flows.
Sometimes I sensed that the books I read in rapid succession had set up some sort of murmur among themselves, transforming my head into an orchestra pit where different musical instruments sounded out, and I would realize that I could endure this life because of these musicales going on in my head.
This is a book. It is a book I found in a box. I found the box in the attic. The box was in the attic, under the eaves. The attic was hot and still. The air was stale with dust. The dust was from old pictures and books. The dust in the air was made up of the book I found. I breathed the book before I saw it; tasted the book before I read it.
This book is a treasure; I did not suspect it would be so good when I picked it up, but now I can feel the printed words seeping through my skin and into my veins, rushing to my heart and marking it forever.I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again.
I love bookshelves, and stacks of books, spines, typography, and the feel of pages between my fingertips. I love bookmarks, and old bindings, and stars in margins next to beautiful passages. I love exuberant underlinings that recall to me a swoon of language-love from a long-ago reading, something I hoped to remember. I love book plates, and inscriptions in gifts from loved ones, I love author signatures, and I love books sitting around reminding me of them, being present in my life, being. I love books. Not just for what they contain. I love them as objects too, as ever-present reminders of what they contain, and because they are beautiful. They are one of my favorite things in life, really at the tiptop of the list, easily my favorite inanimate things in existence, and ... I am just not cottoning on to this idea of making them ... not exist anymore. Making them cease to take up space in the world, in my life? No, please do not take away the physical reality of my books.
They violated every rule in the book. I've studied feeding frenzies. This is a classic feeding frenzy, and it was created in part by their inability to get the news out. You have to tell the truth, and you need to get the facts out completely as soon as possible. This was a public-relations disaster because they didn't do that.