Isaac Asimov – The Great Explainer

I’ve just spent the most pleasant few hours this morning – guzzling hazelnut coffee as I began to explore the first 120 pages or so of Isaac Asimov’s “I, Asimov: A Memoir.” I’ve been blown away by what I’ve read thus far.

My experience with Asimov thus far in my reading journey has been woefully light, especially considering he was one of the most prolific writers of all time. Years ago, I read “Foundation,” one of his seminal works, and meant to press on with the subsequent books in that series but never got past the stage of purchasing a few of them. Our paths crossed again, more fruitfully, in 2008 when I had an ambitious reading plan (“Project: Shakespeare”) wherein I hoped to read through the bard’s plays over a year’s time. I chose as my guide for that project Asimov’s book, “Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare,” with which I’ve probably logged about as much time as any book in my reading life (and still haven’t read it all!). I’ve since learned that he also wrote a “guide to The Bible” which I’d like to give a whirl at some point. I also read his famous collection of related stories, “I, Robot'” a few years ago.

Why I am enjoying this memoir so much? Well, while I certainly make no claims to possessing an intellect even remotely close to his, I do feel as though I’ve found a kindred spirit in him, especially in how he describes his youth and how (and where) his intellectual curiosity led him. I also share his notion of having “problems with ANY people who are above me in ANY hierarchy” (my emphasis) which is why, he explains, a career path of self-employment as a writer was a welcome one for him. He also praises public libraries, which I also happily endorse (I’m sitting in one as I type this, as a matter of fact!). Growing up relatively impoverished, the library was a godsend for him:

“For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.”

Sadly, he also reminds us (and this was written more than twenty years ago) that:

“Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”

Stay tuned for more about this great book, as I suspect I will blow through it’s 700+ pages fairly quickly…

Any other Asimov fans out there?

Sent from my iPad

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