A couple people have wondered what books are behind me in the bookcases where I shoot Juggling Writer videos. Here’s a tour of the second bookcase…and the room where I write.
Also, all Labor Day weekend, you can get the e-book version of my first novel, Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors, at the links below.
Nook and Others: http://www.christophergronlund.com/HCWWPDrl.epub
Or go to http://www.roadtripfromhell.com any other time.
And a Congratulations…
Also, a quick congratulations to John Picacio on winning the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist!
John is one of the nicest people you can hope to meet, and he’s worked his ass off for years. Awards don’t make the artist (he’d be one of my favorite artists regardless of any awards), but I’m guessing winning a Chesley Award Friday night and the Hugo last night doesn’t hurt.
(And it means after 8 consecutive nominations that John won’t be to the Hugo what Susan Lucci was to the Emmy!)
I love “How Clifford Was Hatched”!
My first favorite book was “The Poky Little Puppy” (That puppy was me.) Then it was “Little Fur Family.” A little later, my favorite was the comic album series “The Adventures of Tintin.” In high school, the book that had the most impact was “Lord of the Flies.” It was oddly uplifting. (Odd reaction, I know.) And the book I most identified with was “Catcher in the Rye.” I felt like Salinger was talking to me about me.
Thanks for sharing your books, I enjoyed the tours!
Christopher Gronlund says
CMS: Lord of the Flies was quite a book for me when I read it. I know it gets pegged as a dismal read, but I loved the thought of being left to my own devices (and working with friends) — no adults around. Granted, I know the book focuses on some harsh things, but I always felt when it’s been taught to me in schools that the aspect of self sufficiency is skipped. I didn’t see it so much as the breakdown of order as much as a lesson in where things could go wrong. For me, it was like a rulebook without the rules; instead of saying, “Do this and that and these other things to make it,” it was more, “This is what NOT to do.” I’ve always learned best, in ways, looking at mistakes instead of successes. As a kid, seeing things breakdown was a different kind of lesson to me that’s hard to explain, but it’s one of the things I loved about Lord of the Flies. I knew I wasn’t going to end up stranded on an island, but…if I ever was, I knew that things could break down. Transferring that to other things actually in my life, I often tried to keep things together when things looked like they were about to fall apart. Some of that, at least, came from reading books where things went wrong.
I got something a bit different out of LOTF. I read it around the time I was realizing I was in a harsh world full of cruel people. So it seemed at the time. Reading LOTF, and seeing the community of boys deteriorate, in spite of the best intentions of a few good individuals, validated my own young life experience. My experiences didn’t somehow only happen to me, they naturally happened to kind individuals in spite of their best efforts to live fairly and peacefully. Most people will revert to some level of barbarism when given the chance. This has been observed in several famous psychological experiments, and in countless “real-life” perceived authority hierarchy crimes.
Christopher Gronlund says
CMS: There was also that feeling that the world can be an ugly place when I read Lord of the Flies. I was picked on quite a bit as a kid, and definitely knew that on the island, I’d either be messed with like Piggy, or use my size to make it clear to all that they mess with me, they’d regret it. (The couple times I did defend myself, the message was clear: cross certain lines, and you’ll be hurt in ways you didn’t know you could hurt.) Reading the book was a reminder of that most people have the ability to be cruel, or at least look away and allow cruelty to prevails. But the book was also a reminder that I have a choice: I can contribute to that kind of oppression, or be decent.
I don’t have faith that we’ll ever see our true potential as a species, but I have hope we will, so…even though I know I’m smart enough and big enough to control people, I choose to be compassionate and let people be.
I’ll go as far as saying I’m a nihilist. An optimistic nihilist, but a nihilist nonetheless. I think most people can be swayed to barbarism; I think it’s easy to control people with fear, and I look at society in a race: where either reason and compassion will grow at a rate that can’t be stopped by those hellbent on control, or ignorance and fear will prevail and we’ll revert to darker times and never see our potential as a species.
While I often think we’ll do something hugely stupid before moving on to better ways of thinking and looking at the world, it’s my hope that smarter heads will prevail and there will be a day that people see that coercion isn’t a good way to do things. From little things (that person at work who hoards information from others in an effort to remain “relevant,” to governments controlling people, instead of encouraging innovation and peace.
In short, I think Lord of the Flies is an accurate reflection of society. But…while I feel we’re a doomed species, it’s my hope that those who take standing upright as a gift continue standing tall…even taller than we ever imagined we could stand.
Paul Lamb says
A tour of my shelves would be a tour of a couple of libraries: the nice local system where I borrow a lot of the books I read and the small-town library near my little cabin in the woods where I donate many of the books I’ve owned that I’m not likely to read again. I tend to keep a lean bookshelf.
Christopher Gronlund says
Paul: I’m with you on the lean bookshelf. Several years ago, I gave a good friend boxes and boxes of books. We had a wall of shelves that was spilling over and I gave them all away. The good thing: if I have an urge to read one of the books I gave away, I know where to find them.
We used to go to the library more when we lived in a town with a bigger library. I used to work at the library; loved being around all those books! The library in our town is slowly growing, which is nice. It’s currently going through a renovation.
A small, used book store opened in the town where we used to live, owned by some friends. They will be on the receiving end of my giveaways, now. It’s usually good odds that if I have a book, it will eventually end up at a library or a friend’s house.
Christopher: Your take on LOTF in the context of the human condition- I couldn’t have said it better myself!