When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.
Helmut Thielecke once stated “Sell all you have… and buy Spurgeon!” Charles Spurgeon was a gruff, brilliant English preacher. Helmut Thielecke was a serious, profound, German theologian/preacher. Yet he understood that one man’s writings were truly above the rest, and worthy of great attention.
Metaphorically, I would like to make my own such pronouncement: “sell all that you have, and read Ebert.” Like so many, I read a lot – books, magazines, blogs. I have a lot of favorites, but if you made me choose only one that I could keep in my to-read stack, it would be Roger Ebert. If you have not yet looked at his site, the format is simple: the main column includes his movie reviews. On the right, you can find his blog posts. If you have more time, read the comments following his posts. They are the best out there.
I always read him first, before and then again after I see a movie that he has reviewed. By the way, on the IMDB site, whenever he has reviewed a movie, his review is always listed first — as it should be.
But it is his blog that is so very rich. The more I read from his keyboard, the more I understand why he won a Pulitzer and is considered America’s best pundit. When our oldest son got married, I gave him and his bride three books at their rehearsal dinner. One of the three was Ebert’s The Great Movies.
Now for those of us who are true book lovers, I want to point you to his recent post. Books do furnish a life. It should simply be mandatory reading for all of us. Here are some excerpts:
Chaz and I have lived for 20 years in a commodious Chicago house with three floors, a furnished basement apartment and an exercise room we built on the roof-top deck. This house is not empty. To my 1965 edition of Shaw, which cost me about two quid and now sells for $119, Chaz and I have added, I dunno, maybe 3,000 or 4,000 books, countless videos and CDs, lots of art, rows of photographs, rooms full of comfortable furniture, a Buddha from Thailand, two elephants from India, African chairs and statues, and who knows what else.
Of course I cannot do without a single one of these possessions, including more or less every book I have owned since I was seven, starting with Huckleberry Finn.
Other books I can’t throw away because–well, they’re books, and you can’t throw away a book, can you?
My possessions are getting away from me. We have an agreement. My office is my office. Chaz has her own book-filled office, and takes care that the rest of the house is clean and orderly. My office has a glass door with this gilt lettering:
The Ebert Company, Ltd. Fine Film Criticism since 1967.
I have not been able to even get into the storage closet of my office for four years. The room is lined floor to ceiling with film books, and the shelves of directors and actors with names beginning H, I, J, K and L are blocked by piles of stuff on the floor. What? You expect me to throw out my first Tandy 100? And there’s a 40-year run of Sight and Sound there somewhere.
I hope you will read the post. The array of books he mentions is breathtaking. His love for books is obvious. And, of course, his love for books helps explain the depth of his thinking and his writing.
This is a blog primarily about business books. But underlying it is a simple love of books. Roger Ebert has given us a great read to remind us about our own love for books.