Not just any three books. Three books that cover a topic NOTHING like their titles.
In an effort to escape some family grouchiness and impending arguments my sister and I took a trip to Barnes & Noble before our family movie viewing. Completely off topic (it happens a lot, what can I say?) we saw True Grit and it was AMAzing. Bonus was that not a single family member was offended the whole movie…it made the post-movie dinner and drive home MUCH better than usual.
Back to the topic at hand…
Last week Barnes & Noble emailed me recommended readings based on my prior purchases. I had written down two titles to check out the next time I took a visit. I was intrigued by their titles having nothing to do with the subject they explore.
Firstly, A Gate at the Stairs. This is its synopsis: “Twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the daughter of a gentleman farmer, has come to a university town as a student. When she takes a job as a part-time nanny for a mysterious and glamorous family, she finds herself drawn deeper into their world and forever changed. Told through the eyes of this memorable narrator, A Gate at the Stairs is a piercing novel of race, class, love, and war in America.” Maybe I haven’t been doing much intelligent reading, but the last sentence piqued my interest. I like the idea of reading a novel, fiction, that explores social issues. I love my chick lit from time to time, but it usually doesn’t have a strong focus on social challenges.
After reading the description of A Gate at the Stairs (which won Best Book of the Year) I noticed another piece of work from the same author…
Birds of America. The title would lead you to believe it covers the various speeches in this part of the world. The very first part of A Gate at the Stairs’ description on Borders.com read: “In her bestselling story collection, “Birds of America,” Moore wrote about the disconnect between men and women, about the precariousness of women on the edge, and about loneliness and loss.” Maybe I’m weird, but I am VERY fascinated by human dynamics. I like to understand people. We make so many generalities or we let one difference dissuade us from seeing a commonality. It’s a bonus that it looks like one thing on the outside and are something completely different inside – I like things like that. That age-old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” – it’s overused in some respect, but is wise. I only say it’s overused because its popularity has in some respects lessened the power behind the few words. People get so accustomed to hearing something they forget its real meaning. Kind of like violent video games or the violence seen on the news today – constant exposure has desensitized us. Maybe I’m underestimating my peers, but it certainly feels this way. I am excited to get started on this and is the first I’ll be reading of my day-after-Christmas-bookstore-run.
Perhaps the cause of this misunderstanding is due to my looking at books with such unrelated titles. I think it’s that and my disappointment in fellow Republicans. Yes, I said fellow Republicans. In California I feel I’m considered a moderate Republican. In the Midwest I think I’d probably be a conservative Democrat. Since I live in California, and have never registered as anything but Republican, that’s what I’m claiming as my political identity. Sadly, I think the definitions are so personal, to a fellow “moderate Republican” I may sound more like a liberal Republican and others a conservative Republican. I almost feel like there is no point in identifying with a specific party. Hell, some people may think I’m a Democrat. The reality is that the two predominant parties in the US seem to want to be polar opposites. Parties often forget the majority of Americans are somewhere in the middle. The extremists are the ones making headlines. Reality is we’re all somewhere close to the middle, some right middle and others left middle. It’s my firm belief that either extremists are crazy. Maybe not need to see a psychiatrist crazy, but irrational and often too opinionated to even try to see the other side. ESPECIALLY in the Republican party these days, Republican extremists are so frigid in their positions they feel like they’re the only correct ones in the world and anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye has no place in the Republican party. Granted, I don’t pay much attention to the Democrats and their party infrastructure, I am just disappointed in my own party. If I were a Democrat I think I’d probably be disappointed in them too – probably for other reasons, but disappointed just the same.
Now that we’ve had more personal political ideology discussion in one paragraph than in the history of this blog, it’s time to head back on topic.
As I searched the rest of the tables in Barnes & Noble I found a misplaced book – “I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican”. Now, I had JUST been looking at books with mismatching titles AND I have not been too pleased with the Republican party as of late I misinterpreted the subject matter. Under the title reads: “A survival guide for conservatives marooned among the angry, smug, and terminally self-righteous”. What I read was: “A guide to survive conservatives – the angry, smug, and terminally self-righteous”. Obviously I need to pay more attention to what I see. Aside from that, my interpretation of the reading front cover gave me the feeling it was from a liberal point of view. As sad as it may be, I think of the far right as angry, smug AND terminally self-righteous. I guess I just sort of read what I wanted to see.
I was SO excited to read how the “other” side interpreted conservatives. In working with others of different mindsets I feel it’s important to understand the opposition. I’m a nerd and really like reading about political ideology. As a Republican, I want to know how Democrats see the GOP. In any tiff don’t you want to see how the other sees you? I do, it helps you understand and overcome your difficulties.
When I got home I re-read the books cover and backside. It should have keyed me in when I saw FOXNews.com gave a raving review….one which is completely exaggerated. ‘Author Harry Stein has prepared a primer for people who are locked in political exile in their very own homes.” – FOXNews.com’ Statements like this are what piss me off about Republicans. Really? Political EXILE??? Could we overreact ANY more?!?!
Guess I’ll be heading back to Barnes & Noble to return it. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I found out the true meaning of the book. While I can only make general observations and base my opinions on those, since I will not be reading the whole thing, it sounds nothing more than a “poor me” commiserating piece of work. Republicans don’t need to throw a pity party, whining to the world and exclaiming the awfulness and outrageousness the other side.
Since I have no intention of adding the book to my library, I feel it wouldn’t be right to read it first. Since I purchased it…not borrowed from the actual library. And maybe I’m being too judgmental too quickly. (Yes, I realize this goes 100% away from my ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ comment earlier) I only feel it’s the right thing to do. I HAVE read the long backside description…which I should have read more thoroughly IN Barnes & Noble. Based on the little investigation I’ve done, I have no interest in reading it. If there’s someone out there who thinks I SHOULD read it and am misunderstanding its true purpose – PLEASE correct me. I have no desire to sound arrogant or rude or so opinionated I refuse to accept any other idea. In reality, I rarely share my opinions because I don’t want to dissuade someone from sharing theirs. It’s very important to me to be open to other ideas, methods and beliefs – no ONE answer is 100% correct – we’re human, not a one of us is perfect. Wouldn’t you want to be given the opportunity to see another way? To learn something that may change your opinion? To potentially avoid looking ignorant and arrogant?
…I’m fairly certain no one wants to look like a moron. So please correct me if I sound like an asshole.