Sunday, January 20, 2008

Book Friends

I had a Girl's Night at my house about eight months ago that I still cannot dislodge from my memory. For one gal, it was her first time in my home, and I think the full wall of books overwhelmed her a bit. She asked me if I ever consider downsizing.

I told her we already have. That collection is less than half of what Tom & I have collectively owned in our twelve+ years of marriage. When I touch all the books that remain and consider whether or not I can sell, give away, freecycle or bookcross them (& I have gone through this consideration several times annually), I always come up with a resounding no.

And tonight I finally found words that explain why--from one of my all-time favorite humans, Anne Lamott.

''Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on Earth...''

In fact, as we take on homeschooling, our library has accumulated another 25 books this year that are helping me shape our learning environment. And those which I collected from antique stores, flea markets and yardsales through the years are now some of my very favorites to open for my children. Books published in hardback from the 1920's through every decade to today aren't "dust collectors" to me. I see them as connections to human history. I see them as paper brains that I get to peer into! I touch them like friends, and cannot imagine our parting. I enjoy having a library in my home--even if it occupies 1/10th of our living space. To me, that is Identity. It is the rich identity of my marriage, in fact. Without our books...well, I won't even consider that life unless some wretched tragedy befalls us!

Fuller quotation:
"For some of us, books are important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life—wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded…"

–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994), 15.

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