I am lucky enough to live in the company of books … lots of books. Hardbound, paperback, and a limited number of electronic versions. New releases, perennial favorites, classics – both ancient and contemporary – and a few fragile volumes …
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I am lucky enough to live in the company of books … lots of books. Hardbound, paperback, and a limited number of electronic versions. New releases, perennial favorites, classics – both ancient and contemporary – and a few fragile volumes dating back to the early 1800s. Reference books and poetry books. Travel books and cookbooks. Business, photography, history, language, and art books. Novels, memoirs, short story and essay collections, biographies, autobiographies … you get the idea.
My smallest book – “Kitchen Wisdom” – is 3.5 by 4 inches and resides on a shelf with my cookbooks. My largest book is an atlas, 11 by 17 inches, what would usually be called a coffee table book. I don’t have a coffee table, though, so the atlas and others like it are stacked up around the house under lamps, plants, and pottery. Many of my books have worn and folded covers with crinkly tattered pages inside, usually from multiple readings, sometimes across generations: “The Wind in the Willows,” “The Little Prince,” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” inscribed to my sister and me from our mother in 1965.
I have translations from Spanish, German, and Czech, and a complete volume in French, which reminds me that I need to get back to my Rosetta Stone language course.
Perhaps my most unusual book is a scented volume titled “The Fragrant Garden.” And although it’s impossible to select a favorite, one of my most treasured books is “The Robe,” by Lloyd C. Douglas. Among my most important books are “Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” by Herman Wouk, who brings World War II into visceral detail for those of us who weren’t there.
On my nightstand right now:
“The Plantagenets, Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England,” because I’m fascinated with European history.
“Running in the Family,” by Michael Ondaatje, because it’s an intriguing format from the author of “The English Patient.”
“Wild Tales,” an autobiography from Graham Nash, because I’ve always had a crush on him and because I’ll be singing along with Crosby Stills Nash at Red Rocks later this month.
As you might guess, my bookshelves are filled to bursting, so I recently tried to cull my collection. I found an outdated travel book and a couple of memoirs from Lance Armstrong – in whom I have completely lost interest – as well as the 2014 “Writer’s Market,” because the 2015 edition just arrived.
I tried, I really did. And I do read library books, although a trip to the Standley Lake branch is dangerous because I usually also purchase a couple from their sale room. I have a few on my Kindle, but the feel, the actual action of turning the page – grasping a corner with my thumb and forefinger, sliding the edge of the page down my palm, hearing the whisper, a sigh really, as the next page is revealed – is an experience I never want to lose.
I don’t know if I am a reader because I am a writer, or a writer because I am a reader … the two are intertwined. One thing is clear, though: I’ll always make room for more bookcases because I live in the company of books, and they’re not moving out any time soon.
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