Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dusty Books Thoughts

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end.  
You live several lives while reading it. 
 ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page 
and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.  ~Paul Sweeney

I love to read.  I read everything: cereal boxes, milk cartons, several newspapers a day, nutrition information on food packages, magazines, fine print on contracts, anything with words.

When we moved to Las Vegas, we gave away over two thousand books. It was pure torture. We had the luxury of a library in our Ann Arbor home and spent many hours at book stores, book signings, and book readings.  We now live in an open one-story house with few walls.   However, we still brought several hundred with us because I need my books. With my Kindle, I have replaced some of the books we left. I will loan books to you but a few books never leave my presence, such as Middle Passage, by Charles Johnson.  I probably won't even let you lift it and turn the pages.  Do you have a book you would not loan to anyone?
There are various reasons I read.  Sometimes I read for knowledge, sometimes I read for style.  At different times I've had favorite authors. For example, when I read One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez, he was my favorite.  Who is/are your favorite author(s)?

Sometimes I am a lazy reader, only reading for escape.  Then I choose a mystery, preferably one written by Michael Connelly or John Sanford.  I prefer Michael Connelly and hate it when I finish one of his books because I've read all of his books and know that it might be almost a year before he has a new book.  It was hard to accept new lead characters in any of his books because I thought Harry Bosch, his character who is a detective in Los Angeles, was my friend.  When he introduced a new character, Michael Haller, in the Lincoln Lawyer,  I was prepared to dislike him, but bought it anyway. "A trial is a contest of lies. And everybody in the courtroom knows this."  Well, I loved him and now I have a new best friend.

Love first editions.  I always bought my books on the first day they were published. In Ann Arbor I would browse used books stores hoping to find a gem and got lucky on many occasions.  However, one of the best used book store I've discovered is at the Milwaukee airport.

All of my books that are signed by the author are kept in a special place.  My children know this and I told them that when I die and they clean out the house, do not throw these away.

When I took a Children's Literature course in college we were required to read at least 100 books, including all Newberry and Caldecott Medal winners and the runner-ups.  (Since it was a long time ago, there were as many winners.) I was in heaven.  Piece of cake.

I must be obsessive compulsive because if I discover a new (to me) author that I like,  I have to read every book that person has ever written.  Sometimes I'm disappointed by some of the books but I continue my journey to complete my quest.

My friend, the late Dr. Ted, and I read Winds of War and War and Remembrance together.  Each night on the telephone we would discuss the story so far.  Our spouses didn't quite get it.  They thought we were loony and too involved in books.

Several years ago, my eyesight began to dim was told that I needed cataract surgery.  I was terrified that during the surgery the doctor would slip and I would never be able to read again.  He told me about crystalens, which would improve my vision so much that I wouldn't need glasses.  Even though medicare wouldn't pay for it, I thought my eyesight demanded the best, and coughed up the dough to pay.

What a relief.  It worked.

Everyone in Las Vegas complains about dust and I was very smug about the fact that I didn't have dust in my home.  It was clean.  After the surgery, I came home and went to bed.  When I awoke that evening I looked at my shiny black night table that held over thirty books on its shelves.  It was covered with dust!  The books were dusty, too. How could dust appear that quickly? Then I realized something, I had the dust all along, I just couldn't see it.  But now, with my crystalens, I saw my house was as dusty as everyone else's home, sort of like my life.

Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.  ~Author Unknown


  1. Love in the Time of Cholera by Márquez is a personal favorite (for personal reasons).

    I was a voracious reader my entire life. Truly voracious. I still possess thousands of books, but they're packed away in boxes in a storage facility and will undoubtedly be donated to a library someday.

    I gravitated to poetry some 20 years ago and remain enthralled with that particular form of expression (the highest form of literature some say).

    My favorite poets? Pablo Neruda, May Swenson and Mary Oliver.

    It's all good. Very. VERY. VERY good.

  2. I wish we were in a book club together. It would be fun to discuss things with you. My favorite authors are Anne Lamott and Anne Tyler. I also love poetry books - Mary Oliver, Stanley Kunitz, Rilke, David Whyte. When I was going through my divorce I read every self-help book I could get ahold of. But it was a novel that worked better than any of the psychology books - 'The World According to Garp,' I finally started coming out of my depression. I agree with Muriel Rukheyser, " the universe is made up of stories, not atoms." (is that your husband in the picture with Obama? Explain)

  3. I scrolled down and noticed the same picture was in an earlier post so now I know it's your son. I TOTALLY agree with you about Obama. I was an election judge in my area and it was encouraging to see that he was the clear winner in my district (some day the rest of the city and state {Utah} may wise up).

  4. OMG, Kasscho. How did I forget to mention The World According to Garp.

  5. I've always loved reading, too. Lately, though, my reading has taken a back seat to blogging. But, I'm missing my books and need to return. In fact, I'm going now.

  6. I will try some of the recommended poets. Thanks for those, Jonas and Kasscho. Always looking for someone new to read.

    I can also recommend R.D.Laing's, Knots. I'm using one of his quotes in my next post.

  7. Ah, books.... so many books, so little time. We have a plaque in our house that says something like this... "If we have money, we buy books. If we have any left over we buy food."

    Two poets you should get acquainted with: Billy Collins and Rainer Maria Rilke... Rilke wrote The Panther, which Robert de Niro used to communicate with Robin Williams via ouija board in Awakenings. The full poem is on my blog here, but at the end is a link to multiple versions based on differing translators.

    Enjoying the reading of your recent entries also.

  8. Still more about books. I know you will enjoy this page of quotes About Books....