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 Bill Bernbeck
  Bio  Artist Statement  Journal Gallery 

Walkabout Journal

Ex Libris

I was searching my bookcase for something. Standing back to scan the titles, I forgot what I was looking for when I saw the lineup of books. They were in a random order, having been moved and juggled about the shelves many times over the years. At first, I saw an interesting still life picture with the bands of color displayed across the shelves.

Ex Libris by Bill Bernbeck

It was only afterward that I looked into the image and took note of the content. Here, for all to see is a part of me.  I am presenting a glimpse of material that has influenced me in some way. I had read these books and thought enough of them to keep them. Looking over the titles brought to mind the interesting stories and ideas uncovered through the years.

I thought how Colin Fletcher brought the tedious job of backpacking into order to help me enjoy treks into the wild. Through his books, I would enthusiastically absorb his mentoring as he solo hiked the entire length of Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and the Pacific Rim trail of California. He is a writer turned backpacker, or maybe the other way around. 

John McPhee makes any subject he covers interesting. He brings complete and thorough background research and personal interviews into a narrative that is insightful and easily understood by those of us less informed. His themes are the most varied of any author I have read.

As a young boy, Jack London swept me into his swashbuckling adventure tales. His stories ranged from prospecting the Alaskan frontier to oyster pirating off the California coast. I admire the dimension of experience he brings to his writing.

The very first book I can remember reading was Paddle-To-The-Sea. I had recently purchased a copy of it, and still open it from time to time to read a chapter of two.

And of course, there is the simple elegance of Dr Seuss. Oh, the places you’ll go!!  His verse has a metronomic cadence that pulls you through the entire story. I even like his invention of names for his creatures.

His forced rhymes are always ever so clever
You expect them even more ever and ever
He’ll take you to places you never have been,
‘Round the world once, then ‘round it again.
With brains in your head, and feet in your shoes,

You can go any place that you choose.

“How to Think like Leonardo Davinci” reset my views on accepting opinion, hearsay, and accusation as nothing more than just that. Author Michael Gelb brings forward the seven principles of Davinci’s thinking as compiled from his notes. I identify with the aims of Curiosita, Dimostrazione, and Sensazione. I fully accept the principles of Arte/Scienza and Connessione, but am still working on Sfumato and Corporalita.  Gelb presents Davinci as a remarkable man, the stuff of his own legends, very much larger than life. He may have been all that, but really, Mr. Gelb, I remain skeptical that he could straighten a horseshoe with his bare hands.

Who is my favorite author? The answer will change with the mood. I do know that James Herriot will always be at or near the top of my list. Each of his chapters stands out as a complete and delightful short story composition. I can open any of his books, randomly open to any chapter, and enjoy a complete story with an insightful ending. He masterfully blends personality, drama, and humor into all of his stories.

Of course, there are more shelves, with more books and more authors.  Do the books on our shelves give a meaningful reflection of the inner person? If so, then here is a little bit of me.

Bill Bernbeck
February 2009

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