These are my books. I’ve had some for a very long time; others are recent acquisitions. Quite a few were gifted to me by their authors. Some were bought on a lark, probably not unlike Imelda Marcos and shoes. I am wired with a must-have gene, and if a title makes my radar, out comes the Chase Sapphire card. One of the many reasons it takes so long to deliver bicycles to patiently waiting clients is that this collection is always on my workbench, along with my tools, and next whatever work in progress happens to be there. It’s hard to focus with so many words and pictures calling to me. Ya’ see that – I’m laughing at myself there, well kinda’ sorta’. I don’t really have any particular favorites from the pile, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention the books about D’Aquisto and Nakashima would be among the first grabbed in the event of fire. I’ve opened these editions more often, and over a longer time, than any of the others.
The thread that runs through most of the books shown here is one of focus. They’re about someone, or a staff of someones, or a family business with a long line of someones, all paying attention to detail. All the someones have their heads down trying to understand and tame the material, while simultaneously have their heads up thinking about ways to drive their past into a future. Huh! Heh? Many of the items written about here may seem like vestiges from another era, but I view them more as designs, crafted goods, and business models that are timeless. In the case of the titles that are not about making things, the same is true – the stories and their authors are beautiful to me.
I haven’t read (read, as in finished) a single book end to end since I left Peddie. And I can’t recall any I read while at school. And I haven’t read any of the books shown below either. But I have opened them hundreds, maybe thousands of times looking for inspiration or an answer. Many have been like a friend, or a therapist, or even just good medicine that I turned to when I needed direction. Sure, I wish I could read. I’d love to have what it takes to sit still and take in words for hours without distraction, not to mention being able to retain the thoughts contained between the covers. When the line formed for attention spans, I was under a table at McSorley’s.
I have returned to the same several dozen friends, therapists, and medicine bottles over the years. And I think that fact is reflected in the work I do at the bench, when I can see it, that is. It’s been said that I have built the same bicycle for decades, inferring that I am stuck in time. I don’t think I have ever built the same bicycle twice. I am not sure I’d ever want to build the same bicycle twice.
The pages in these books have been my safe haven. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the tools to read (read, as in finish) any of them. I’d love to know what I am missing. In the meantime, I’ll take my small doses since they have served me well. And every time I come back for visit, the results are different. No two alike.
PS Click here for a hi-res version of the picture.