Saturday, November 04, 2006

A List that Reaches Out, Not In

I was checking out Wil Wheaton’s “Five Books Every Geek Should Read"* when something struck me: It’s been a theme among the bloggers I follow recently to talk about what’s important about “us” to “us”. Like geek books for geeks, poetry books for poets, modern philosophy books for modern philosophers, etc.

Maybe I’m unique, but rather than publishing possible credentials for membership in a club I’m already in, I’m more interested in being an ambassador of sorts for people outside the club. I find myself in this position naturally a lot anyway: I’m more deeply involved in the arts than many of my business and technical colleagues, but more aware of issues in business and technology than my artist friends; my personal politics are way to the left of most of my family, and way to the right of most of the people I encounter in the pursuit of poetry; I’m by profession and nature a developer of new products and new ideas, but I’m by hobby (inherited from my father) a student of the past and an occasionally voracious reader of history, etc., etc., etc.

All of which is a long way of saying: Hey, Wil Wheaton, as respected and linguistically gifted ubergeek, how about a list of 5 Books People Who Want to Know More About Geeks Should Read, That They’ll Find Enough Interesting Content in to Want to Finish, but Which Are Representative Enough of Geekdom to Reach Them and Hopefully Change Them a Little?

Granted, that’s a crappy title for a blog entry, but you know what I mean.

Let me put my money where my mouth is and give you “Five Books of Poetry Everyone Should Read”, with the idea that it will be a bibliography of reasonable length which I suggest you read before you attempt to credibly tell me that you “don’t like poetry”.

I want to roll this out one book at a time with enough exposition to be meaningful, and this entry is already 3 scroll-clicks too long, so the first selection is short with more to come later:

First up, the shortest collection in the bunch and therefore the least intimidating place to start, is
BJ Ward’s 17 Love Poems with No Despair. The title is an obvious nod to Neruda, but the collection is a Whitman’s Sampler of love poems that have something for everyone. My favorite opening lines, from “Coffee”:

Honey, I hate mornings
like a dead leg hates a polka

Within the covers of 17 Love Poems..., you'll find both classic themes and references to members of the Justice League of America. If you love now or have loved once, have read Neruda or have never read Neruda, know who Zan and Jana are or didn't watch ABC on Saturday mornings in the seventies, you will find something to impress you in this slender volume. More on this book in the wrap up entry at the end of the list, which I promise to you, my six devoted readers, will be less than eight weeks from now (which my geek friends have already projected base on the average post density over the past few months, making certain allowances for impending holidays but my artist friends think is ridiculous because of the obvious passion contained in this entry....).

Next entry, with a more meaningful treatment: Cat Doty’s

* A quick note: You can get to Wil Wheaton’s column from the WWdN link at right, but be aware that his column is hosted by a website that contains some content your business, family, and maternal filters will find questionable, so I’ll leave it to you to go read the original list if you like

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