Dennis loved to read, but maybe not as much as he liked to talk about the books that he had read. We would trade book recommendations, normally around this time of year, as he returned from whatever vacation he went on and I prepared to go on mine. Dennis had the "one book" philosophy, while I normally maintain one fiction and one non-fiction book at all times.
I had the opportunity to chat with Dennis's sister Pat yesterday (of Twinkie fame), who was the source of many of Dennis's best book recommendations. I talked with her about "The Art of Racing in the Rain", which was the first book Dennis had mentioned to me. I read it and when I came back from vacation, mentioned to him that I liked it. "Oh that book's funny," he said. The book is funny. We talked about some of the philosophy expressed in the book, particularly the bit about how "it's not good to have enemies." If I can paraphrase my friend, he responded saying something to the effect of "I don't have enemies. They have me!" (Big laugh).
Our back and forth book trading continued. Anyone who has this type of relationship knows that it can be stressful, particularly with a "calls-em-how-he-sees-em" guy like Dennis. On more than one occasion, he would come up to me and say, "You know that book ____? Can't get in to it." But then, on the good days, "Hey I really liked ____. Thanks for the recommendation."
Dennis was a guy with dozens of books on the "to do" list at any given time. That was one of the reasons he bought the Nook (also encouraged by a very heavy paper book that compelled him to give up the medium). It seems right to honor him with books. But maybe a little more than that...
What makes losing Dennis so hard is that we've lost a collective experience. He permeated so much of what we are as a community that without him, we're like Our Town without the Stage Manager. Things feel "less". Less "what", I can't exactly say, but "less".
At their heart, blogs are about sharing and creating a collective experience. Most of you who have read blogs for a while know what it is like to read multiple blog posts covering a single event. It makes that moment in time a little different than it would have been without those posts. It makes things "more".
The Wordbones Memorial Book Club is about creating that collective experience. We're going to start with Timbuktu by Paul Aster, one of Dennis's favorite books, with a main character by the name of "Mr. Bones." This book is new to me, but one that Dennis repeatedly recommended I read (everyone needs an emotional time out from "dog books" every once in a while; mine has been about two years).
The book is 192 pages and our book club starts reading on June 1. If you're reading something else, try to hurry up or take a break. We'll target finishing the book by July 1 and, doing what book clubs do, get together for some wine to discuss.
I would love for this to be big. There is so much space to fill in all of our lives with Dennis gone. A book won't do that, but it is the next closest thing; to be able to go up to people you barely know and discuss something you both know intimately.
And who knows where this goes. Ideally, the Wordbones Memorial Book Club would be passed from blog to blog, with each blogger picking a book to honor Dennis and keep that collective experience going. We'll decide that in July.
But for now, it's Timbuktu. And Mr. Bones.
Have a great Tuesday doing what you love. Rock on.