Writer’s Log: Stardate 21-2-12
I love books. My house is filled with them and I am constantly running out of bookcases. I often find myself staring at a wall and wondering if it wouldn’t look better if it were covered with bookcases. (My wife always says “no.”) I even have some built-in bookcases in my house—a wonderful way to show that books belong by giving them dedicated space.
I also love reading on my Kindle, but I really wish all those digitized, ephemeral, insubstantial, electronic, binary encoded, wannabe books were “real” so I could admire them on my bookcases. My tiny Kindle with its modest library of invisible books just doesn’t compete with my bookcases filled with the real things.
And I love mail. I used to rush home after school as a kid and ask “Did I get any mail?” So it follows that one of my most favorite experiences is getting books in the mail.
When I returned from my long trip to the West Coast I had three books waiting for me. (My wife was also waiting for me, but I had to check out the books first.) The books were:
1) A foreign translation of my Oxford University Press book, The Oracles of Science. It took me quite a while to find out what language it was in—and actually it was my daughter who used some kind of “Google Translator” to figure out that the book was in Polish. Shortly after she figured this out I found the letter from the publisher letting me know that “The Polish translation” was out now. They gave me three copies. If I ever meet anyone who speaks Polish, I will give them a copy of the book. This translation joins an earlier one that appeared in Italian, and a later one in Spanish that should appear shortly. I can’t read anything in them, except my name on the cover.
2) The second book was Alvin Plantinga’s new book from Oxford University Press titled Where the Conflict Lies, which argues that science and naturalism are in conflict, not science and religion. I have agreed to review this for Christian Century, somewhat against my better judgment, since I am getting behind on my Adam book. I turned down a request to review it for a smaller journal but Christian Century is a major magazine and I have never written for them before.
3) The third book was a pre-print sent to me by a publisher who doesn’t know that I have not been an editor for several years. Publishers send out pre-prints of books hoping to get reviews in major magazines around the time of publication. When I edited Science & Theology News and Science & Spirit I used to get several books per day—which was like living in a perennial state of Christmas. I have to laugh when I get these preprints, years after I ceased being an editor. My name is on some publicist’s “proprietary list of influential media moguls” and a publisher is paying good money to have this supposed “expert” distribute their books to editors who will generate reviews that will help sell the book.
The really exciting package in the mail though arrived this morning. I will comment on that tomorrow.