Friday, July 03, 2009

Michael Jackson: Book Lover

I have paid very little attention to the hoopla about Michael Jackson's death. I was out of town the week he died, and didn't turn on a television set for the six days I was away from home, so I managed to miss the worst of the media blitz about his tragic end. Frankly, though, I found the man to be kind of creepy and not too many years after his "Thriller" period I began to ignore him. So the last thing I thought I would be posting about today was something relating to Michael Jackson.

What caught my attention was the comment from Jackson's lawyer, Bob Sanger, about Jackson's reading habits and personal library.
"He loved to read. He had over 10,000 books at his house."
"And there were places that he liked to sit, and you could see the books with his bookmarks in it, with notes and everything in it where he liked to sit and read. And I can tell you from talking to him that he had a very - especially for someone who was self-taught, as it were, and had his own reading list - he was very well-read. And I don't want to say that I'm well-read, but I've certainly read a lot, let's put it that way, and I enjoy philosophy and history and everything myself, and it was very nice to talk to him, because he was very intellectual, and he liked to talk about those things. But he didn't flaunt it, and it was very seldom that he would initiate the conversation like that, but if you got into a conversation like that with him, he was there."
The complete column at recounts some of Jackson's bookstore visits and how he was known to bring a van full of kids to bookstores and let them buy whatever they wanted. I love the fact that Michael Jackson was a reader and that he saw giving books to children as something positive but my lasting impression of the man will be that of one who lived a sad and somewhat twisted existence right up to the day of his death...just another wasted life.


  1. I felt the same way as you did--found Michael Jackson to be creepy pretty much after the Thriller period--but this is a nice thing to know about him. I'm surprised he was a reader, but happy to hear it, and I hope it brought him some comfort in his obviously difficult and sad life.

  2. Of all the news that's been out there about Michael Jackson this past week, I actually found this the most interesting. Maybe because I too have something of an obsession with books. I don't know if I would use the word creepy to describe how I felt about Jackson. I think I mostly felt sorry for him. He just never really had a chance at a normal life, having come of age in the spotlight. I think he was very talented, but also very troubled. It's nice to hear about this side of him.

    (What is creepy is that my word verification for this post turns out to be "weeps" how appropriate!)

  3. Gentle Reader and Alissa, I find it interesting that all three of us feel that this says something positive about Jackson. It reinforces for me my belief that readers, no matter who they are or where they are, feel a high degree of kinship with other readers...having something so personal in common with "strangers" opens the door to understanding in a way that might not otherwise be possible.

    I actually feel that I understand Jackson a little better by knowing that he was a reader and that he had amassed a 10,000 book collection.

  4. I had no idea he was a reader. I'd be fascinated to see what kind of books were in his collection! And while he kind of creeps me out, now I have something to admire and empathize with- his love of reading.

  5. I'm happy to hear you say that, Jeane. I think this kind of thing puts more of a human face on Michael Jackson and removes some of the "freak" image I had of him in my own mind.

  6. I didn't know Michael Jackson was a reader either and it certainly wasn't covered in the mainstream news, which I was paying attention to (Thriller was my first record, which I got when I was 7).

    Sam, you always bring the good news. I love it. And I think you're right that readers feel a's a beautiful thing.

  7. Thanks so much for the kind words, Colleen. You know, it may be a bit strange, but knowing that Michael Jackson owned some 10,000 books "humanized" him for me for the first time in a long while.

  8. Perhaps a bit late to comment here, but I was struck by this response of seeing Michael Jackson in a different light just knowing of his love of books. No doubt, the media continually fed us such a rich diet of Michael as a 'creep', etc. that the resulting dish totally distorted his fabulously human self. I think he got, and gave, much more out of his life than we were ever led to believe :-)

  9. It's never too late to comment, Nessie. Thanks for stopping by to share your feelings about Jackson's addiction to books.