Disperser Bookcases – Part III

First, a reminder of the books we’re looking at:


I should mention there not be many photos in this post. One, exactly, and it’s the above photo. That’s right, it’s mostly words. Boring at best, it can be deadly to them used to the visual arts. They best move along.

The last book covered in the previous post was The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers  (Voices that Matter) by Scott Kelby. We now jump on the other side of the Analog of Science Fiction and Fact.

Wait . . . the Analog of Science Fiction and Fact deserves a mention. I subscribed to it in 1983, shortly after reading my first ever Science Fiction book, I, Robot. The stories within I, Robot had been previously published in pulp magazines, one of them Astounding Science Fiction – the previous name for Analog of SF and F. 

My subscription remained uninterrupted until April of this year, when it expired and I opted not to renew. THIS POST explains a bit of why, but as few will read it, let me tell you. Part of the reason is that pile you see in the photo. It’s two deep and spans the time between October 2007 and June 2014 – nearly seven years of Analogs, all unread. 

I’m slowly making my way through them, but these days I have many interests and many things I want to read. Plus, when I subscribed (in 1983) I started going to used bookstores and getting all the old copies of Analogs I could find. I don’t have a complete collection, but some of the issues I have date back to the 40s. 

That’s a lot of reading, Bob. Why, yes; yes it is, Bob. Anyway, let’s continue.

Our next book is Stretching by Bob Anderson. No, it’s not my Bob; my Bob is fictional. This is the 1980 edition, and it looks like new . . . because all I do is occasionally leaf through it. Mind you, I’m 61, but I can still touch the ground a few inches past my toes, can still put on my sox standing on one leg, don’t have to sit or kneel to tie my shoes. What I can’t do is scratch the middle of my back, but I could not do that when I was a kid, so I’m not to worried about it. Besides, I have back-scratchers in nearly every room and in each of the cars. I’m good.

“Why keep it, then?” 

Good question . . . like most people I harbor the idea that someday I will do stuff . . . I will build loads of lean muscles that give me the strength to climb free-hand on a negative-angled rock face; I will be so limber as to visually check moles on my back without the need of mirrors; I will be a wiz at every program put out by Adobe, as well as mastering the full range of all the programs I own. I will learn how to cook even as I become a master programmer.  I will learn how to fly a plane, master three or four martial arts disciplines, even inventing my own. I will write a best-seller during my spare time while I single-handedly build our retirement home out of logs I cut down and moved about by myself. Oh, and I will read Shakespeare’s collected works.

I’m kidding about that last one. 

Seriously, I bought this as a used book primarily because it mentioned stretching for raquetball (yes, that’s how it’s spelled on the cover). The problem is that once I went to that section, it talked about stretching right before a match! Well, screw that! If I’m within sight of a court, I’m not going to stand outside the court stretching; not even for a minute.

But it looks good on my shelf . . . don’t open it, though; besides cracking the spine of the book, you’ll also be confronted with hand-drawn figures illustrating the exercises. I hope the 30th anniversary edition of the book (2010), has better illustrations.

But, let’s move on. 

Much like the stretching book, the next three books are in perfect condition. English Grammar for Dummies, English Grammar Workbook for Dummies, and Writing Fiction for Dummies.

So, let’s talk a bit about grammar. I came to the US in 1966 and went to Eighth Grade while I was still learning English. I did well, and went on to High School. However . . . still learning English. I was put in a remedial class with a bunch of  . . . well, they were less than brilliant. Some could even tie their own shoes.

I did well, and as I progressed in my language skill, I was moved to regular classes. The second year I had a grammar class run by one of the lay teachers . . . who happened to have been drafted and heading to Vietnam sometimes after the school year finished. My memory is fuzzy about his situation, but here’s what I remember clearly:

He would come into the classroom, had the students open up the book, assign a bunch of problems, and then call me up to the desk. I would pull up a chair while he brought out and set up a chess set, and we’d play chess for the duration of the class. I was a pretty good player.

My junior and senior years I had “advanced English” or something to that effect, which meant reading and writing, but no grammar that I remember. Same for college. I am sure I had some sort of grammar class, but since I spent my first two years playing pool, chess, table tennis, tennis, fishing, and skipping most of my classes, I don’t remember learning much. If I did as well in the grammar course as I did in all the other courses, I probably flunked it.

Actually, I probably got a “C” since by the time I straightened out and began studying again I took more advanced English courses, and hence nothing to do with such basics as grammar. Aced the courses, but all my grammar was . . . how shall I say it . . . intuitive. Still is.

By the way, that was the time when one of the teachers told me I should switch majors to English. I sometimes regret not listening to the guy, but on the other hand, had I followed a formal education in English, I might not be the brilliant writer you see today . . . I would be even brillianter. 

My English grammar is anchored on the following: something looks right, and I like it, so I write it. Imagine my amazement when I began finding out that while people thought I could write well, my grammar was – if not wrong – unorthodox.  Then again, grammar rules are mostly suggestions. Sometimes strong suggestions, but suggestion nonetheless.

Through the years I made a number of attempts to school myself . . . boring myself to tears. The two grammar books on my bookcase were on sale, probably sometime in the mid-2000 (they are 2001 editions), and I got them real cheap. Someday, in mint condition, they’ll be worth something. Eh, probably not.

Mind you, I do think I have improved. I’m still fuzzy on comma uses, and ‘proper’ sentence structure, but as long as no one throws a fit while reading my stuff, I think my time is better spent writing than learning grammar . . .  besides, my chess skills are a tad rusty; I’d actually have to learn grammar if I took a class.

I do listen to the Grammar Girl podcast and get her weekly updates. Someday I’ll probably buy her book; it will look nice next to the other two.  

Oh, I do use Grammarly. I have a paid subscription, and the grammar checker is integrated into my Word program. It’s a pretty good checker, and I often agree with it. I highly recommend it.

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson is a very useful book . . . it brings balance to the other two. Visual balance, that is. This was another almost-free book. For them who don’t know the author, Randy Ingermanson can sell you the Snowflake Method For Designing a Novel in program form. You can read about it on your own, but the basic premise is you build a novel using an incremental method to build your story, characters, plot, etc. You begin with the framework and fill in the rest. 

I’m probably not describing it very well. I can tell you it does not work for me since I don’t outline (yes, I have the program). Sad that, since everything I read says successful authors become so by eventually learning to outline their novels. It’s what transitions them from mere writers to published authors.

In any event, I have the book on writing, and some day, probably the same day I learn grammar, I will learn how to write a novel in such a way that the process will be devoid of passion, discovery, excitement, surprise, and most of all, the fun of writing. 

I’m going to gloss over the next book, Siamo Tutti Umoristi by Umberto Domina. it is a collection of headlines, notices, ads, photos and writings that are “involuntarily humorous”. Honest, it’s not all that funny, but it sometimes offers up a sideways glimpse of the 60’s. Even for someone who reads Italian, the material is very nuanced. I believe it used to belong to my uncle, but I’m not sure.

The last book I will cover in this post is Mythology by Edith Hamilton. The original copyright is from 1942, but it has been reissued by a number of publishers. I don’t know what year my copy was printed.

Here’s the interesting thing . . . it’s available as a PDF. It’s a good introduction to the subject.

Thank you for reading this third installment, and I hope you join me for the remainder of the rivetting progression through my library. Lots of good stuff to come, if I do say so myself (I usually have to, as few others ever speak so of me).

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What the 'H'?

What the ‘H’?

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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11 Responses to Disperser Bookcases – Part III

  1. oneowner says:

    Another fine collection. I’m wondering, though, why I’m not seeing “Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style” mixed in with the grammar books. Is it not useful anymore?


  2. My husband relies on Grammarly all the time. Because he grew up in Hawaii, he didn’t learn proper English until he went to college. It has saved him more times than he can count. I used to be very good at grammar but something happened along the way and I find myself having to use it too.


    • disperser says:

      We live in an age of plenty, and it makes us lazy. Much easier for me to have Grammarly point me to the egregious errors than it is for me to go and actually learn grammar.


  3. mvschulze says:

    I enjoy writing some, just posts, letters, this and that… not novels of books. It’s now a sort of hobby that likely only I think is worthy. But during my career it proved to assist and advance my credibility and position – ultimately proving quite rewarding. But I rely on the books: dictionary, of course; thesaurus, definitely; and speller. My most cherished aid, however, is my wife as proof-reader, obviously not for comments like this, but she being a school teacher, often previews, reviews and suggests corrections to grammar and syntax (what-ever that is!)
    Oh….and bookshelf tours…. I like that concept! .


  4. I love getting to see the books on your shelf! So interesting! I think what a person reads, what music they listen to, how they spend their money, etc., tell us a lot about them. I’m always asking people, even people I meet for the first time, “What are you currently reading?” Their answers are always fascinating to me! :-)

    That “Sunset” miniature gardens book is one I’d love to look through! Also, the Barlowe’s guide! :-)

    Thank you for sharing about the “Dummies” books. I really need to buy all of those. I love to write, but I’m not good at writing. My poems, etc., seem to burst out of me (like a fast delivery/birth) and I often leave them just as they come. I rarely change anything. But, I probably should.

    I didn’t get a good grasp of grammar in high school or college. I’ve always wished I had.

    Bookworm-HUGS!!! :-)


  5. AnnMarie says:

    Thanks for the ‘gem’ about your first two years in college . . . something I must have Louise read.


    • disperser says:

      Different circumstances back then. Had you never heard the story?

      Went through a time where I didn’t care much about anything. Still went to a few classes that interested me, but not much else. Then I met someone . . .


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