James L. (JimiJam) was named our Member of the Month in August 2011.
How long have you been a PBS member? It’s been a little over 4 1/2 years now, though it honestly feels as if it’s been much longer than that. I can’t fathom how I got on before joining the Swap.
How did you find PBS? My partner at the time had been a member for a few weeks, and kept pestering me to join as well. I remember being severely skeptical for quite a while. I guess I thought it unlikely that I’d find good titles in acceptable condition; my only experiences with used books up to that point had left quite a bit to be desired. When persistence failed to convince me, she resorted to more devious measures: she requested a book she knew I couldn’t resist. I wish I could recall what that book’s title was. As I think back, there’s a blur between my skepticism and filling in my information, reading through the Help Center, and placing the first requests on my own account.
How has PBS impacted your life? What does PBS mean to you? The effects of my new life as a Swapper were almost immediate. I had always been a reader, and had been through more titles than ever during the first 5 months of that year. In retrospect, I liken that pace to a snail’s when compared to the Atlas V rocket of Swap life. I suddenly found myself within easy reach of hundreds of titles from every category along the spectrum of my preferences. It wasn’t long before I reached that point of realizing that every day is like Christmas when you’re a Swapper. I learned to use bibliographies in the first of my Swap books to discover even more titles, branching off into new topics and genres. To me the Swap was, and continues to be, a nigh-inexhaustible source of knowledge, insight, and entertainment. I found vintage copies of favorite books; out of print books now invaluable to my c.v.; titles of which I had heard but had never yet encountered in person; titles of which I had never heard, and now value above most others. What’s more, I discovered that there’s more to the Swap than books; the friends I’ve made in my time here have been the most sincerely and undeniably wonderful people I’ve ever known. Much as I’d be lost without the Swap, I’d be doubly lost without those friends. All in all, the very course of my life life itself was arrested and redirected toward an ever-increasingly excellent state of existence.
What book impacted you most as a child or young adult? I have been most fortunate as a reader, in that I’ve discovered dozens of titles that have been essential to my continued development as a person. It has been a surprisingly frequent occurrence, to find myself claiming “This book completely changed my life!”. Among these are: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran; Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse; Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky; Escape from Freedom, The Art of Loving, The Art of Being, To Have or to Be, all by Erich Fromm; On Writing, by Stephen King; A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick; Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams; Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman; Diagnosis of Man by Kenneth Walker; The Image, by Daniel J. Boorstin; and, easily the most important of all, Frank Herbert’s Dune. I’ve reread Dune countless times, having revisited it at least once each year since first reading it as a teen. I could honestly go on for days about what I think of this book, and what reading it and its sequels has done for my life.
What is your favorite or most meaningful book read as an adult? Aside from Dune, the book that likely had the biggest impact on my life as an adult would probably be Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom. It helped me to better understand so much about myself and the world in which we live, and did more to further me along my personal path–at a time when I most needed it–than any other book I’ve ever read. I now own a dozen or so of Fromm’s works, each of which have proven invaluable to my continued education and development.
What are you reading now? I usually keep a dozen or more books going at a time, but chiefest among these at present are: Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande; Beneath the Wheel, by Hermann Hesse; Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift; Civilization and its Discontents, by Sigmund Freud; and The Transformations of Man, by Lewis Mumford.