The Book: Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat/Three Men on the Bummel. Oxford University Press paperback reprint, 1998.
First read: 1981 (approximately)
Owned since: 1998
Two weeks into the new blog, my first dilemma: how am I going to blog about my book collection from the road? I haven't catalogued my library, and it seems unwieldy to carry a bunch of books along so I can choose which to write about.
Lucky for me, my first trip is to my friend Matt's. Matt and I own several books in common -- and I knew that he had this book (as well as tomorrow's selection) because I gave it to him.
My own copy of this book is not the first that I have owned, although I have no idea what happened to that one. I first encountered the book in Robert Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, which I read when I was eight or nine; the main character's eccentric father reads Three Men in a Boat over and over again. Later, when a history teacher said the only three books anyone needed were the Bible, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and Three Men in a Boat, I picked it up -- and was baffled.
Three Men in a Boat, first published in 1889, is the story of Harris, George and the narrator, "J," who decide to escape their city malaise by taking a boat up the Thames to Oxford. Along the way they bicker, offend the local population, discover the hazards of outdoors life, and generally have a grand time. The book is both travelogue and social commentary, and very funny in a way it's hard to appreciate until you've taken an under-equipped trip with friends. It is a story of early middle age, and at 13 or however old I was when I first read the book, I didn't get it.
Now, leafing through Matt's copy of the book, I find myself wanting to clear today's (slightly overbooked) schedule and spend another afternoon floating up the Thames, worrying about what the dog will do next.
But the dog is tomorrow's entry.
Tonight I'll be at Partners & Crime to celebrate Alison Gaylin's new book, TRASHED. If you're in the Village, you should come too.