by the way...

Books are great, but let’s weed ’em out


In the past five decades Larry McMurtry has collected 300,000 books which he auctioned off in August of 2012. His book store, Booked Up, in Archer, Texas, is renowned. He sifts through and rids his own shelves of 1,000 a year. His home collection of thousands makes mine of one to two thousand look paltry.

In the ‘90s publishers sent newly published books to me every week in hopes that I’d write a review for the Florida Times-Union, which I often did. Hundreds of books poured into my mailbox. If I started one and didn’t like it, I didn’t have to finish it. The Times’ book editor Ann Hyman’s mantra was “Life’s too short to read a book you don’t like.” If I didn’t review what they sent, publicists didn’t yell. It was a bibliophiles’ fairy tale.

As I wrote frequently about health, books on that subject arrived often. But I don’t believe in reading books older than five years about medicine. Last Saturday, with a rare and glorious day of no agenda, I vowed I would release myself of a dozen books on how to take care of oneself, how to eat right, and how to live to be 100.

I started with a book called Tired All the Time. It was published almost 20 years ago. The Salmon and Salad Diet said you should chow on as much salmon as you can. I guess that meant to eat some for breakfast too. If my doctor tells me I’ll be dead in a year if I don’t eat salmon for breakfast, I will ignore him. I won’t give up my poached eggs on toast.

The M.D. author suggested that you also eat lentils for breakfast which is a step less hideous than the early-‘60s Weight Watcher diet suggesting tuna fish for breakfast. I actually did do that. The Tired book also said to avoid nuts and avocados. HA! We now know that nuts are not sinful. They are important fats. The Tired author also said to avoid extra virgin olive oil. Now we can even eat chocolate, but only one ounce. What a tease.

Next I opened the 2003 book called The Breakthrough 12-Week Eating Plan, sent to me from Reader’s Digest. On page 227 was a breakfast recipe for this: “Streusel-Top Coffee Cake” with an illustration that made me drool. Let’s see: Salmon or Cake. Cake or Salmon. Which shall it be? Oh heck, you can go for the cake, but the problem is a tablespoon will “cost you” a whopping 150 calories.

Another page talks about 100-calorie snacks. We now know all these 100-calorie packs of chips, crackers, and cookies are doing us in. They lead to cravings and turn us into carboholics. It’s much easier to give up completely the stuff you love for a few months, because after that your body doesn’t crave it.

Dare to be 100, written in 100 steps and published in 1996, came over and sat with me in my La-Z-Boy, and I rocked and read about the value of hormones for women. What a pandora’s box opened back then about the dangers of estrogen.

His “Step 49” is “Be a Good Loser.” Now that is something I can work on in case I am in the mood to dare to be 100. I am not a good loser when people beat me in Words with Friends.

I skimmed through a dozen other books that afternoon and gave them to the Salvation Army. It felt great.

After his book auction, Larry McMurtry who wrote The Last Picture Show and Pulitzer-winning Lonesome Dove, kept 100,000 books in his book store, and 28,000 for his personal library. I wonder what he thinks of Kindles.