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For the past couple of weeks we've been privileged to read the contributions of some highly talented, interesting members of Readers and Book Lovers. But because we don't have a contributing diarist today, we'll have an open forum instead. Please do step up to the plate so "Books That Changed My Life" won't shrivel up and die!

To show you how easy it is, here’s the template—just three paragraphs and you’re home free! Just tell me which week you want and your name shall be entered into the Sacred Logbook.

In the first paragraph, all you need to do  is introduce the title of the book and the author, and mention the circumstances in which you encountered it—did you buy it, borrow it, or receive it as a gift? How old were you? Were you at school still or working?

In the second paragraph, you could provide a quote from the book, or briefly describe the contents, or tell something about the author. If it’s a classic and has been reproduced on line as part of The Gutenberg Project, you could provide a link. Or if there’s an entry in Wikipedia about it, you could link to that.

In the third paragraph, you would state how reading the book changed your life—by making you aware of politics, or history, or seeing the world beyond your own cosmos of home, family, friends, and school, or thinking about things in a new way.

You will need to add at least three tags to the bottom of your diary:  Readers & Book Lovers, R&BLers, and Books That Changed My Life. Feel free to add more, according to your subject.

So which book changed YOUR life? The Kama Sutra? REALLY? Oh, wait, no, perhaps you really meant The Call of the Wild or Into the Wild. You can talk about any book, even The Upanishads.

Please kosmail me and tell me you’ll do a diary in October so this series won’t fall flat on its face!

On this late September morning it’s rather chilly, so for refreshment we have a huge urn of delicious Royal Blend tea (Ceylon and Assam), with milk and sugar. There’s also an urn of freshly brewed Colombian for those who prefer coffee. If you’re hungry, help yourself to crumpets, toasted a golden brown and dripping with melted butter and honey, in the large silver bun-warmer over there.  

Now that you’ve refreshed yourself, we can talk. Our good friend Limelite suggested this topic:  “Which book do you read under the covers with a flashlight?”  Aha!  No hiding, you’ve got to tell us!

Is an iPad with Kindle the modern equivalent of a hardcopy book and a flashlight?  It’s true I can read that way even if the room is completely dark, no need to stick the device under the covers. All right, I’ll confess:  I read cheap, junky, trashy spy stories.  They’re full of violence--guys getting kicked through windows, stunned with the butt-end of a gun, blown up with well-tossed grenades, and so forth. I like it even more when the operative in question is a 28-year-old woman who speaks seven languages and is an expert in karate and several other martial arts.

For some reason I simply adore spycraft. I live in the Washington, DC area, so when I’m stuck in a traffic jam on I-66 I amuse myself by trying to figure out which car ahead of me contains a spy on his or her way to a drop. It’s interesting to know that if you want to block directional microphones that might pick up your conversation with a fellow operative, you should park your van under a canopy of trees—the foliage will block the waves or whatever. It’s also prudent never to enter an establishment without circling the block two or three times first, to make sure that no one from the other side is there staking out the place. Another good tip is that if one operative is a man and the other a woman, they can exchange information even over the telephone by talking like lovers--the lover-like language is a code for what’s really going down.

I’ve learned about keeping large amounts of cash and a couple of passports in bank accounts around the world under fake names, using burner phones to communicate and then disabling them by removing the battery and dropping them into a lake, and borrowing a dog to walk around the neighborhood you’re interested in. Sometimes it is necessary to observe a target’s habits and house before you can make your move, but no one suspects a person out walking a dog at night. It’s just so ordinary.

Okay, that’s my dreadful secret reading habit. Please tell us about yours!

P. S. By the time you read this I'll be in Vancouver, and it'll be approximately 5 a.m., so most likely I won't be able to join you. Please feel free to discuss the topic among yourselves!

Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
Sun 2:00 PM What's on Your E-Reader? Caedy
Sun 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
alternate Mondays
2:00 PM Political Books Susan from 29
Mon 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery michelewln, Susan from 29
Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
TUES 5:00 PM Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left bigjacbigjacbigjac
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM All Things Bookstore Dave in Northridge
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 2:00 PM e-books Susan from 29
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
alternate Thursdays 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
Fri 8:00 PM Books Go Boom! Brecht; first one each month by ArkDem14
Fri 10:00 PM Slightly Foxed -- But Still Desirable shortfinals
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
Sat 12:00 PM You Can't Read That! Paul's Book Reviews pwoodford
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid
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Comment Preferences

  •  Secret reading (13+ / 0-)

    I don't have to do secret reading any more bwahahaha! I used to sneak a book with me on holidays into back cash of drive-thru. We called it 'the hole' for a reason; it was bricked off from the rest of the store. Holidays were always pretty dead (especially picnic holidays, unless it rained), and once you got the cleaning done there wasn't much to do but stand around. So I'd take a book with me, or a notebook and pen (to do some short story writing). It wasn't a daily thing, because most days were too busy for that.

    In school I used to read in Pre-calc. But that's because I was completely lost, the teacher was unhelpful (taught from the book only and if you had a question told you to read the book), and by the middle of the first quarter I was flunking no matter what I did. My dad wouldn't let me drop the course. So I read. I wish the internet and Khan Academy was around then, I would have looked up the information I needed on my own from more helpful sources. I had the same teacher for Geometry the year before and barely passe that. Now I'm re-learning Geometry with my son, and understanding it a lot better. At least so far.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:08:10 AM PDT

  •  The book that changed my life (14+ / 0-)

    was Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past," the translation by Scott Moncrieff. I read it in high school and learned French just to read it in the original. I cart the books around with me to read whenever I just need some comfort.

    I was often sick with Crohn's disease relapses and Proust was an invalid too.

    The opening of Swann's way is still one of the best first sentences.

    For a long time I used to go to bed early
    What I like about the book is the whole concept of memory and how he creates a circle with it. It opened a whole world of french literature to me from Andre Gide, to Charles Baudelaire's poetry. Just lovely.

    Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means of peace. ~ Ulysses S Grant

    by vcmvo2 on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:20:47 AM PDT

  •  The books I find most addictive, which I read for (15+ / 0-)

    comfort and escape (and used to read under the covers, when I was about 8-13), are escapes into completely different worlds.

    I read the Narnia books at that age. I was entranced by the thought that I might find a wardrobe or a painting which I could step through, and find a fresh new world to explore, with talking animals, mythical beasts, and magical quests and battles.

    Nowadays these are still the kind of books I'm most likely to find myself up at 2AM reading, because I have been sucked into that other world. However, I've seen a lot of spells since my childhood, so it takes a strong enchantment to keep me glued to the pages - and the enchantment comes more frequently in the form of everyday occurrences, described in sparkling, flowing, moving and marvelous prose.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:26:13 AM PDT

    •  Oh, yes, Brecht! (7+ / 0-)

      The Narnia books spurred all our imaginations, didn't they?

      Funny thing--on our first leg of the journey to Canada, we stopped in Seattle, where I reconnected with someone I haven't talked to for many years. I used to babysit her and her sister when their parents went out, and I'd read the Narnia books to them. When they later moved to Seattle they told everyone the knew about them.

      Good to see you, Brecht!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 06:50:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fantasy writers for teens have enormous influence (6+ / 0-)

        on our imaginations, because they blow the walls off and add a whole new wing. Think of how many children read about Narnia, or Middle Earth, or Hogwarts - and come back to earth with little bits of magic stuck in their vision.

        We absorb all these seeds, of impossible deeds and fabulous lands. Twenty years later, there are hundreds of writers sharing whole gardens that were planted in their youth, and nourished by their own distinctive voices.

        Many books change our lives; but the ones that get there first, with the loudest boom, teach us new ways of seeing and reading and writing.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 07:31:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Playing puptent (8+ / 0-)

    What I read under the covers with the lights on was Playboy.
    the kind of magazine you read with one hand

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:44:57 AM PDT

  •  These days? All it has to be is tangential. (10+ / 0-)

    You already know that the great majority of my reading is connected with my teaching and research. With two new preps, all my secret reading has to be is NOT about history.

    And these days, what's on my Kindle that I read while I'm in transit is mostly The New Yorker. I know, not a book, but something that provides entertainment and, not infrequently, diary fodder. I have Thomas Pynchon's new book, Bleeding Edge, queued up to read too. Maybe on the airplanes next month.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 06:05:45 AM PDT

  •  Growing up, it was Bradbury (8+ / 0-)

    for late-night flashlight reading.  Novels, short stories - anything I could get hold of. By high school it was Stephen King books; I still turn to him when I want to raise the hair on the back of my neck.  

    But only at night, with a single light bulb.  ;)

    The truth always matters.

    by texasmom on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 06:52:03 AM PDT

  •  Good morning, booklovers! (7+ / 0-)

    It's raining here in Vancouver but considering we've had three glorious days in Seattle and Victoria, we're going to Keep Calm and Carry On.

    When not goggling at the sights--yesterday we saw a pod of killer whales diving through the blue waters of the Swartz Bay while crossing on the ferry--I'm reading The Voynich Cypher, yet another spy thriller, and The Blue Castle, about a young woman's secret, imaginary world.

    Tasty as the cyber-crumpets are, I think I'd rather like the yogurt and fruit offered by the gregarious Greek restaurateur around the corner.  Thanks for joining the discussion this morning, booklovers, and please, someone--sign up to do a diary in October! Halloween will soon be upon us!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 07:10:34 AM PDT

  •  Everything (6+ / 0-)

    When I was young I read either in the tree or by moonlight through the window, so that I would not be bothered or sent off to do chores. When I was married, I read in the walk in closet so that I would not wake up my husband.

    Now I read everything out in the open ... romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, YA lit, children's lit, history, biography.  I might down play the theology and philosophy so no one gets the wrong idea about me. It is refreshing not to pretend that I don't have a taste for light and sometimes silly reading. But I must admit, I have often wondered about people that need to put covers on their paperbacks ... makes me wonder if I am missing something really racy. LOL

    "I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night." Greg Martin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

    by CorinaR on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 10:13:58 AM PDT

  •  The Theory of the Leisure Class (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Limelite, dandy lion

    the group known today as the 1%, by Thorstein Veblen. The laugh-out-loud funniest work of non-fiction I have ever encountered. I got it from the library while in college, but you can read it online or download it from Project Gutenberg.

    Industry is effort that goes to create a new thing, with a new purpose given it by the fashioning hand of its maker out of passive ("brute") material; while exploit, so far as it results in an outcome useful to the agent, is the conversion to his own ends of energies previously directed to some other end by an other agent…Their aggressive assertion of force and sagacity differs obviously from the women's assiduous and uneventful shaping of materials; it is not to be accounted productive labour but rather an acquisition of substance by seizure. Such being the barbarian man's work, in its best development and widest divergence from women's work, any effort that does not involve an assertion of prowess comes to be unworthy of the man. As the tradition gains consistency, the common sense of the community erects it into a canon of conduct; so that no employment and no acquisition is morally possible to the self respecting man at this cultural stage, except such as proceeds on the basis of prowess—force or fraud.
    Thus, in our time, the deliberate inversion of the distinction between the Makers (women and slaves at one time, now upgraded to wage slaves) who create actual things and provide actual services; and the takers, originally hunters, warriors, and shamans, but now nearly all politicians, financiers, the military, the clergy, and the like (with some honorable exceptions). It is no accident that the Takers deliberately reverse the names, imputing honor and respect to avarice and malice, and disdaining hard work and playing by the rules.

    I began to take religion seriously at the age of nine, including all of the injunctions to love your neighbor and to help the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger among you (immigrants and minorities, we would say today). This required a great deal of exploration and inquiry, which I have obviously not finished with yet.

    Most of what I read on the subject struck me as fatuous and simply fantasy, but here and there I found writers and activists actually applying the notion of helping everybody in a practical way. Veblen most clearly laid out the nature of the problems we have to deal with.

    These days I spend time almost every day on putting an end to global poverty, at a profit all around. However, we find that the rich would not be content to end poverty at a profit for themselves, because, as Veblen explains, much of the point of being rich is to be able to demonstrate how much richer you are than everybody else. This is what came to be known as Conspicuous Consumption. Most people seem to think that that means consumerism, but what Veblen was getting at was much worse than that. It feeds directly to the Republican Southern Strategy, based on measures that hurt the entire economy, but that gained support because

    It's OK as long as Blacks get hurt worse than Whites.
    Nixon strategist Lee Atwater

    Many work on the real problems through specific programs in health, food, agriculture, renewable energy, fighting government corruption, and so on. Some of us approach it as the general problem of empowering the poor to take on all of these problems themselves, which we propose to do through education and technology, especially communications and computing technology. Thus I have volunteered with One Laptop Per Child ("My other laptop is in Rwanda"), and now I manage a program at Sugar Labs to create free digital textbook replacements that users will have permission to translate, to adapt, and to improve.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 11:21:11 AM PDT

  •  a great topic (3+ / 0-)

    i'm happy to read most anything in the open, and my fun reading are tween and  YA adventure books. Luv luv luv Michael Scott's series (Alchymist series but the final one was a dud), Trenton Lee Stewart (Mysterious Benedict Society series) even the Rick Riordon series (Percy Jackson series but the newest ones aren't as fun as the first ones).

    under the covers, i read books by Ann Coulter. seriously. this is really scary stuff.  i tried reading her books out in the open but because of the looks i got from others,  i thought i should read them covered in a brown paper bag if out in public.

    so now you know. i am a closet reader of conservative books, in particular, memoirs and autobiographies.  

  •  As a kid (3+ / 0-)

    my undercover books were usually books I pinched from my dad's stash.  Usually Edgar Rice Burroughs, but also pure and puerile entertaining trash like all of Norman's Gor series.  How I turned out a feminist I will never know.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 06:44:22 PM PDT

  •  Last Undercover Read (3+ / 0-)

    was Hawking's A Brief History of Time.  We were on the road in the RV and had visited Princeton U. where I explored the bookstore and had to buy that book!

    Late into the night I read as if under that previously mentioned spell, pitching a tent with my knees and shining a headlamp that I held in my hand on each fascinating page until I regretfully closed the back cover with 2 hours to spare before dawn.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 07:32:24 PM PDT

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