Only Three Books

Here’s something interesting. It’s not necessarily a “bad retail behavior” story, but it’s thought-provoking.

Apparently, a well-dressed gentleman stopped in a bookstore and informed the employees that he’d just been sentenced to six months at the workhouse and would be allowed to take three books with him.

He selected Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard (possibly because of the heft of the volume), Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and an unmemorable third.

This episode turned into a parlor game for all the booksellers, as in, “If I were sentenced to six months in the workhouse and could only take three books with me, what would I take?”

Because I’m always expecting the authorities on my doorstep, I want to be ready so I’ve been thinking about my three choices.



It’s one of the very few books I’ve lifted to “You Betcha, I’ll Read It Again” status. I love it with every fiber of my being. It does three things to me simultaneously … laugh hysterically, break my heart thus turning me into a little puddle of sobbing Becky, and curse the day the writing bug bit me because I’ll never be Haven Kimmel.

Two …  I’d bring THE TAO OF POOH and THE TE OF PIGLET, by Benjamin Hoff


because really, is there any other way to learn the Chinese philosophy of Taoism? No. No, there is not. Technically, you can find both books in one volume. Alas, I don’t own it. But if I’m only allowed one, I’d choose Piglet because I believe in the virtue of the small.


urban-dictionaryThree …  my URBAN DICTIONARY compiled by Aaron Peckham.  I would spend my incarceration memorizing every delicious word and then come out saying things like …

D’s been giving me heat ”˜cause I slang bricks.

That concert was hellza cool!

Oooh! I love this song. Let me get my dance on while I lean back.

Yo, check it! Sista got Tyrese on mad lockdown again this weekend. Brotha won’t be able to hang.

And of course I’ll start calling everyone “holmes.”

Holla back at me with the three books you’d take to the joint with you.

0 thoughts on “Only Three Books

  1. Mary

    Before I answer, can I just tell you I think these kinds of questions are the most unfair things in the universe?

    Okay, that aside. I tend to pick things that are thick and dense and reward re-reading.

    A really good edition of Shakespeare’s everything. I know it’s cliche, but there’s more about human behavior in Shakespeare than in the DSM-IV. The language and humor and horror would keep me entertained and thinking for even longer than it would take to read.

    Moonwise, by Greer Gilman. (Or her new book, due out soon, in the same story set.) Her writing is dense and tangled, meant to be taken slowly and savored, and every time I read that book I see it a slightly different way.

    Those two are easy. After that it gets really, really tough. Fiction, for escaping? Nonfiction, to inspire my own fictional ideas? Poetry, to spin out lots of ideas from little groups of words?

    Okay, got it. Favorite Folktales from Around the World. Because it’s full of hundreds of stories and because it’s edited by Jane Yolen.

  2. beckycc

    Golly, Hans-Wolfgang …. I don’t know what to say. Especially since I don’t know what YOU said! Until I’m told differently, I’m just going to assume that you said something about me being the best blogger in the English-speaking world. And something about Picasso and Chinese philosophy.

    Oh, snap!

    When you click his blog entry, linked above in his message, you get a blog written in English. This, however, is what I got ….

    Es geschah einmal, dass ein Amerikaner

    von Picasso ein Porträt gemalt haben wollte.

    Er wußte, dass der einen fanstastischen Preis verlangen würde, aber er würde ihn zahlen,

    er hatte genug. Also legten sie vorher keinen Preis fest.

    Er bat ihn darum und Picasso machte das Porträt.

    Als es fertig war, verlangte Picasso tatsächlich einen fantastischen Preis.

    Sogar der Ameriikaner konnte es nicht glauben

    dass Picasso für solch ein kleines Porträt,

    bloß ein kleines Stück Leinwand mit ein paar Farben darauf,

    zehntausend Dollar wollte.

    Der Amerikaner sagte: Es erscheint mir ein wenig zuviel, sogar für mich.

    Was in dem Bild ist zehntausend Dollar wert ?

    Picasso sagte: Was siehst du?

    Er sagte: Ich sehe ein Stück Leinwand und ein paar Farben.

    Picasso sagte: In Ordnung. Bring mir zehntausend Dollar,

    oder was auch immer du willst.

    Er sagte: Ich werde dir fünftausend Dollar bringen.

    Als er fünftausend Dollar brachte, gab ihm Picasso

    nicht das Porträt, sondern ein Stück Leinwand und ein paar Tuben mit Farben.

    Und er sagte: Nimm das. Das ist doch alles, was du wolltest.

    Ein Porträt ist mehr als ein Stück Leinwand, mehr als ein paar Farben.

    Es ist eine Harmonie.

    Und wenn Picasso etwas malte, war es für ihn eine große Harmonie.

    Der Preis ist nicht für die Farbe und die Leinwand,

    der Preis ist für die Harmone, die er hergestellt hat

    mit den Farben und der Leinwand.


    I guess that means I’m not the best blogger in the English-speaking world.

    Oh, snap.

  3. beckycc

    Sorry, Mary …. if I were the best blogger in the English-speaking world I probably wouldn’t have asked such an unfair question.

    But you must be the best blog commenter in the English-speaking world for playing anyway!

  4. Lana

    1. You are the best blogger in the English-speaking world.
    2. You’re definitely the only blogger I know too.
    3. If he was sentenced to the workhouse, he would not be out walking around freely, they would’ve taken him straight from the courthouse to the workhouse bus. At least that’s what they do in juvenile court … um, not that I know or anything.
    4. The Bible is out, although maybe the workhouse would be a good place to read it and find out what all the fuss is about. The thing is I think I’m much more spiritual than the Bible so I wouldn’t want a book to ruin that for me.
    5. Goodnight Moon (to remind myself of the innocence in this crazy world). Pride and Prejudice. Harry Potter # 1.

  5. Scott

    I’m 16 so I really don’t want to be going to prison anytime soon.

    Sophie’s World
    Book of Magic Tricks
    A bible (so I can smuggle in a deck of cards)

    Hopefully I’m not in jail for smuggling.

  6. Lana

    Wait, only 6 months in the brink?!? I thought it was a life sentence. Hmmm … 6 months … I’d find three new things to learn:

    Dummie’s guide for lockpicking
    Dummie’s guide for concrete demolition
    Dummie’s guide for disguise (camoflage)

    I’d use the knowledge to gain early release ; )

    Then, again, maybe I’d excel at my career upon release so that I don’t get caught again and sent back.

  7. Jessie

    The only definite is Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles de Lint, because it’s very thick and has some of my favorite short stories in it (and one fantastic novella!). I should probably read more Shakespeare, so I’ll take his complete works, and then one of the Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov, because sci-fi is amazing and would be total escapism, even if they’re so dense they’d sink in water like stones!


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