Archive for the 'Books' Category

The Fig Tree

ثمرة التين , fig fruitsEither my freshman or sophomore year I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. To a certain degree Esther’s mental illness was something I could identify with and the turmoil of my thoughts at the time often found companionship with her words.

Luckily, that time is behind me now but, there is still one passage that has stuck with me. I think about it often as I now attempt to figure out the next step in my life. It so clearly illustrates my feelings and my fears about that next step. I’m working towards figuring it out but, in the mean time I’ll share the passage with you:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the top of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olypmic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

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Victory in the War on Textbook Costs

Today I ordered my books for the fall semester. Not through the schools bookstore but, completely online. It can easily cost $500 for one semesters worth of books and for those whose budget is a little tighter that is just not an option.

So here are the hard facts:
– 11 books purchased
– Books = $105.49
– Shipping = $39.39
– TOTAL = $143.88

For me $150.00 can be a hit to the wallet but, compare that to what I would have paid if I could manage to get all my books from the schools bookstore at the used book price:

– Bookstore Used Book Price = $296.75
– Total Savings = $152.87

Now if the other students in my classes had beat me to the bookstore and all that was left was new books I think I would cry:

– Bookstore New Book Price = $413.84
– Total Savings = $269. 96

If I had gone to the bookstore I would be paying between 2 and 3 times the amount I did online. I’ve been a big proponent of students buying their books online, it just doesn’t make sense not to do it. The school even buys back the books that I have bought online so I do not worry about having to resell them all online. I could rant about the ways in which schools needlessly overcharge students but, I think the numbers I have presented speak for themselves. I have yet to have a bad experience with buying textbooks online and often times the used condition of the textbooks is better than I would have found at the bookstore. Stay tuned for the end of the semester when I compare what money I receive from textbook buyback and compare it to my initial costs, it should get interesting.

Rereading

A few days ago me and a friend went to Borders bookstore and ended up wandering around the children’s section looking for books that we remembered reading in the past. It was fun to search back in the dusty corners of our brains where the memories of those book had been sitting quietly. She talked about “Amelia Bedelia” books and how her mom used to read “Nancy Drew” to her and her brother. I talked about being scared out of my mind by “Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark”, I’m not sure how they were ever allowed in my elementary school library, the cover alone is frightening enough.

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We both agreed that “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” is one of the best book series of all times. We also both remember having our minds blown away reading “A Wrinkle in Time” when it was said that the shortest distance between to places was not a line, but a wrinkle. These were landmark moments in our childhood.

An hour passed and we decided that perhaps we had spent enough time in the children’s section. Before we left though I had to buy a copy of “Half-Magic” by Edward Eager. I remember this book fondly and all the magic, time travel, and global wanderings the children in the story encountered. This was a book I had picked out myself and had found by just wandering through the library. In many ways it felt like a secret book no one else knew about because our class wasn’t required to read it and I wasn’t reading it for any project, it was just for me.

I was inspired to write this post because of a comic I saw over at XKCD.com. My brother was a huge fan of the Redwall series, I think I only read one. Probably because by the time I had heard of them I was going through that phase where I thought I was above children’s literature. If I had the time to reread all the books I read as a child how different would they all seem now and would that magic be lost? I’m not sure. Maybe some things are best left to memory.


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