Another bookplate.

I love libraries.  And old books.  The history.  The number of hands and minds the text has passed through.  It must be amazing to hold MS Cotton Nero  A.x.

Another bookplate, thanking Mrs. Ethel Garrett for donating Carlyle’s Essay on Burns.

Return dates, handwritten in the back.


Older than shit books.

It is the third day of classes. I’ve already been to the library. I left with 14 books.  Most about Percy Shelley and the politics of the romantic age.  Two books were for me.  Not because I wanted to read them or needed to study them for a class.  But because of their history.  I love finding old books with character.

The first book is titled Egoists, a book of supermen by James Huneker. This is why I picked it up.  As a sat in front of the shelf, trying to find a book, the word supermen shined along the black spine.

I opened the book and was met with instant awesomeness.

The book was donated when SHSU’s library was still housed in the Estill Building — the front doors of the building, along with the name of the donator, are on the bookplate.  Thank you Corinne A. Waldo of Houston!

Estill served as the library from 1928-1968.

This partial book plate is in the back of the book.  I did a quick google search and couldn’t discover what the quote under the plate is.  Can anyone help?

A complete version of the book plate is found on the back cover.  I can’t make out which, but this book once belonged to a loaning library.

It also belonged to Andy Hansen, who was very keen on making sure the book was marked as his.

I wonder, was is Andy or Corrine who wrote notes and underlined.  Someone from the lending library, or even someone from the Estill Library?  Maybe someone more recently, someone who picked this book up from the same shelf in the Newton Gresham library?  The above quote, “His solo has always preceded the chorus” appears is A Book of Prefaces by Henry Louis Mencken and is about the author of Egoists, Huneker.

The second book I checked out isn’t as awesome.  It is titled Friends on the Shelf, written by Bradford Torrey.

I love the Sam Houston Normal Institute Library stamp.  I often see the Estill stamp, as seen in the above book, but the Normal Institute stamp isn’t nearly as common. SHSU was known as the Sam Houston Normal Institute from the day it opened its doors in 1879 until a name change in 1923.  Our mascot was the normals, and I mourn the switch to the bright orange Bearkat.  Who wouldn’t want to be a normal?  This book was published and added to the Peabody Memorial Library in 1906.

I love the old date stamps in the back of the book.  I’m the first to check it out in a few years, but it sure was popular in 1948.

I love the final chapter of the book, which discusses why America lacks proper literature.

Wish List

There a bajillion books that I want to read or reread.  Many deal with the same themes or topics, and some are just classics.

Propaganda Books

Atlas Shrugged*

Brave New World*


Animal Farm

Fahrenheit 451*

Apocalyptic Books

The Road*

The Day of the Triffids

The Last Man


The Count of Monte Cristo*

Les Miserables*

All Quiet of the Western Front*



I’m sure there are more.  I will update this when I think of them.  What books are on your list?



The Abuse of Books

I hardly ever borrow books from friends.  And I hate nothing more than borrowing a book that looks unread.  Brand new. Pristine.  How can people read and enjoy a book without even creasing the binding?  Without scribbling in it?  Without dropping it in the bathtub?  Without chunking it at goats?  Without losing it?  And how can they expect me to read it without creasing the flawless binding?  Without getting a little dirt on it and bending a few pages?

I admit it.  I abuse my books.  How can I not?

I add page numbers if they are missing… And, underline with whatever is around.  Pen, pencil, crayon.  I used eyeliner once.  Very bad idea.

I draw pictures in the margins.

And, sometimes I draw on the words.  (Which causes problems when I go to reread or write a paper on it.)

A few years ago I bought a used Rick Bass book and found this airplane stamp on the front pages.  I just had to get a stamp of my own.

I settled on a red chandelier.  Every book I read has this stamped in it — usually on one of the back pages.

On the front and back pages, I write page numbers.  Which are useless unless I include a key word.  The numbers on the right page are from the first time I read The Crossing.  The ones on the left page are the second time.  I learned something in the few years between readings.  Always underline, always highlight, bend pages, write the page numbers and keywords in the back, do what I want with it.  It’s my book and I cannot hurt it.

I have a little puppy that likes books.  Here, I was reading and eating a candy bar when the doorbell rang.  I set my candy on the book and answered the door.  When I came back, Gypsy had eaten the candy and licked a hole in the page.

Gypsy Vicious also likes to rip covers off of books.  She has torn four books so far.  I was able to tape one of them back on.  The others were in tiny pieces on the floor.

Occasionally, I do write something useful in my books.  It doesn’t happen nearly often enough.  Usually I will just underline and trust that I know what it means.  And, then I don’t.  I usually only write extensive notes in a book if I’m writing a paper on it.


William Blake’s Poetry

Poems discussed in this entry:

Songs of Innocence: The Lamb, The Nurse’s Song, Holy Thursday, The Divine Image

Songs of Experience: The Tyger, London, Holy Thursday, The Human Abstract

The Nurse’s Song

(From Songs of Innocence)

“And the little one’s leaps and shouted and laugh’d”  This poem is about the innocence of children.  They play and laugh without realizing that it will all come to an end.  But, it doesn’t come to an end. It echoes through the generations.  Children will always play and laugh on the hillside, while a knowing nurse watches on.


“And blights and plagues the marriage hearse.” This is my favorite line from Blake’s poetry.  A prostitute gives birth to a baby in poverty.  The unity of marriage is destroyed by prostitution and venereal disease.  The marriage hearse combines desire, love ,a type of hope, passion, and innocence, with death, decay, destruction.  The image of the marriage hearse is horribly beautiful.

The Holy Thursdays

From Songs of Innocence: “Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.” The children are described as innocent, pure, radiant, and even “angels unaware.”  The poor children seem to have a light of their own, they are happy, positive, and radiant.

From Songs of Experience: “It is eternal winter here.”  This line shows the depressing mood of the poem.  The children in this poem have no sun within or without.  They are reduced to misery and surrounded by hardships.  The poem is dark and offers no hope to the children or the reader.

The Divine Image and The Human Abstract

“And these virtues delight/Return their thankfulness.”  The four virtues discussed in The Divine Image bring happiness.  The poem conveys the idea that when in distress, if prayed upon, the virtues will bring delight and thankfulness.  The end continues this message, by stating that those who have these virtues, also have God.

“There grows one in the human brain.”  This line from The Human Abstract refers to the tree that cruelty planted.  The tree is comprised of mystery, humility, and deceit.  The poem first shows that mercy, love, pity, and peace (the four virtues from The Divine Image) are passive and only exist through the hardships of others.  The four new things — cruelty, humility, mystery, and deceit — all reside in the human brain.

The Lamb and The Tyger

“Little lamb God bless thee.” This line from The Lamb shows the poem is naive and innocent.  It’s like a child’s poem.  It focuses on the good aspects of Christian faith, without mentioning the bad, the suffering, and the evil in the world.

“Did he who make the lamb make thee?” In The Tyger, the poet is in awe over the beauty and violence of the tyger and wonders who made it.  If creation reflects the creator, what does the tyger say about the creator?

Atlas Shrugged, Part 2, Chapter 3

White Blackmail.


Dagny and Hank discuss Francisco.  Neither can figure him out.  They think that they should hate and despise him, yet they like him and are drawn to him.

Rearden: “Yes… yes, like the Wyatt fire.  But, you know, I don’t think I care too much about that.  What’s one more disaster? Everything’s going anyway, it’s only a question of a little faster or a little slower, all that’s left for us ahead is to keep the ship afloat as long as we can and then go down with it.”

Dagny: “Is that his excuse for himself?  Is that what he’s made you feel?”

Rearden: “No.  Oh, no!  That’s the feeling I lose when I speak to him. The strange thing is what he does make me feel.”

Dagny: “What?”

Rearden: “Hope.”


Lillian catches Hank cheating.

During their conversation, Lillian says that she’s known he wanted a divorce since the first month of their marriage.  He responds by asking why she stayed.  She says, “It’s a question you have lost the  right to ask.” He agrees, and thinks that there is “only one conceivable reason, her love for him, could justify her answer.”

Hank still believes that it her love for him that keeps Lillian around.  Hank is still naive and believes Lillian loves and cares for him, and wants the best for him.  I think that Lillian sticks around for the status and power.  She gets to be the wife of the great Hank Rearden, and all their friends know how he comes home late and doesn’t treat her like a queen.  She gets to hold this over his head.  She holds power over Hank.

She confirms this when she says, “Do you suppose I will allow your romance with a floozie to deprive me of my home, my name, my social position?”

Cafeteria Man and the Destroyer

Eddie meets with the unnamed man in the cafeteria. He discusses Danagger and how Dagny fears the destroyer will soon reach him.  The stranger seems interested.  We still don’t know who this man is or what role he plays in the novel.

In the next section of the chapter, Danagger announces that he will retire, after a mysterious visit from an unknown man.  Are the two events connected?  Why else would Rand put them side by side in the chapter?  Is the mysterious man in the cafeteria some how connected to the destroyer?  Could he be the destroyer?

Dagny and Danagger are saying their goodbyes.  Dagny asks him if he will return.  He says, “No.  You’re going to join me.” What could he mean by this?  Will the destroyer come after Dagny?  If these men are leaving happily, willingly, is he really a destroyer?  What is his goal?

Hank’s Response

“Could I now reclaim a single hour spent listening to my brother Philip and give it to Ken Danagger? Who made it our duty to accept, as the only reward for our work, the gray torture of pretending love for those who rouased us to nothing but contempt?  We who were able to melt rock and metal for our purpose, why had we never sought that which we wanted from men?”

Hank regrets not befriending Danagger, a man he respected and loved. And, regrets giving what could have been Danagger’s time to his worthless brother, Philip.

“Closing his eyes, he permitted himself to experience for a moment the immense relief he would feel if he, too, were to walk off, abandoning everything.  Under the shock of his loss, he felt a thin thread of envy.  Why didn’t they come for me, too, whoever they are, and give me that irresistible reason which would make me go?”

Hank is slightly jealous.  He understands walking away.

To Shrug

Francisco comes to see Hank.

“Mr. Rearden,” said Francisco, “if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling, but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders — what would you tell him to do?”

“I… I don’t know.  What…. could he d? What would you tell him?”

“To shrug.”

When the weight of the world is upon your shoulders, you shrug it off and move on.

Things to think about/discussion questions/journal entries

1. Both Dagny and Rearden think they should hate Francisco, but don’t.  Why do you think this is?  How do they feel about him?  How do you feel about Francisco?

2. Discuss what you think about the destroyer. Who is he?  What characters has he taken? Why do you think they leave willingly? What is he doing?  What characters could he be connected to?  Why did he have a cigarette with the golden dollar sign?

Cormac McCarthy

I love Cormac McCarthy.  This semester, I will be reading two of his books — The Crossing and Blood Meridian.  McCarthy is difficult to read.   He doesn’t use quotation marks, he doesn’t say who is saying what, he doesn’t use apostrophes and other punctuation, he loves mingling spanish in the english, sometime he uses flowery, lavish language, and sometimes he uses bare, empty language, and he doesn’t shy away from violence.

Everyone has trouble getting used to reading McCarthy.  Some people fall in love with his style, while others muddle through one book and swear to never read another.  I’ve put together a list of tips to help out the new reader, and I hope that you guys will comment and add your own tips.

Don’t start with Blood Meridian.  All the Pretty Horses is easier than most of McCarthy’s other books.  The Crossing is also fairly easy, although it does have more spanish.  I also think that No Country for Old Men would be a good starting point.  It’s the first one I read, and it helped that it followed the movie closely.  The Road is also an easier read than some, but I’ve been told that it doesn’t move fast enough.  Many of McCarthy’s books are not driven by action and may seem slow to develop.

Read and stop. When first starting, read the first 5 or 10 or 20 pages and put the book down.  Wait a few days or a week, and start it all over.  Reread what you’ve read and continue on.  Letting your brain see a sample of his style, and letting it settle, can help the process.

Add the missing pieces. Having trouble with the missing quotation marks?  Add them as you read.  Missing the he said, she said?  Write them in as you go.  There is nothing wrong with writing in the book, especially if it makes it easier to read… This is how I started reading McCarthy.  After doing this for about 10 pages, my brain was adding them on its own and I no longer physically added them to the book.

Stop whining and deal with it. Every time I hear someone complaining about McCarthy, it annoys me.  If you don’t like it, don’t read him.  He gets away with it because he is a genius.  If you can’t get past the missing punctuation to see this, then it’s your loss.

Keep reading. If you get confused, go back a few pages and reread. If you’re still confused, keep reading.  Don’t put the book down just because you’re a little lost.  If you’re frustrated, put it down but remember to pick it back up.  The only way to get used to McCarthy’s style is to read it and enjoy it.  It’s just like Shakespeare or Faulker — you have to get used to the writing and the style.

I hope that these tips can help you enjoy McCarthy’s genius.  If you have your own ideas or suggestions, please comment.