My response to that sidewalk sign is, “Amen!”
I live in more of a cottage than a house. I’ve always been more of a “cottage person” than a “house person.”
Ironically, I’ve also been someone who would love one of those spectacular libraries like they have in Downton Abbey. Only spectacular mansions have them.
You know the kind I mean, you see them in movies. They have 100-foot ceilings, books lining the walls floor to ceiling, wooden ladders to reach the really-high-up books, plush chairs you can disappear into and read for hours while the sun streams in through leaded-glass windows.
I’ve always wanted one of those.
I adore books. Opening a book, I step into and inhabit another world. So many worlds to explore!
I have books in every room of my house and, at any given time, I have three or four of them going.
I also love to listen to books on CD while driving and I always have one of these going too.
I often fall in love with the author.
I find bookstores and libraries magnetic.
My village (yes, I live in a village) has the cutest storybook library and I’m in there every weekend. I love the librarians. They are pleasant, kind, helpful, always happy to see you.
I especially love the small independent bookstores, the owner behind the cash register, ready for an enthusiastic discussion of any volume or author in the store.
This is Kathleen, the owner of A Great Good Place for Books. Go in there even once and she’ll know your name and remember what you most like to read. Everyone in the village adores her.
I love good stories, novels, imaginings, essays, biographies, letters, wanderings, poetry. Also great detectives (like Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache).
I started reading at a ridiculously precocious age. By the time I was 10, I had read all of my 18-year-old sister’s books (she’s also a prodigious reader), often to my father’s great consternation because, for example I had read the biography of Dylan Thomas, a Welsh poet who led a debauched life and drank himself to death. I understood his immortal lines:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I understood his fury with mortality. I liked that he would not go quietly.
My father, however, tried to have little talks with me about “suitable” reading material, but there was no controlling my sister’s growing library and if there was a book in the house, I read it.
In the summers when I was in school, I easily read a book a day and still got out to swim and play with friends in the lake where I grew up.
At some point I decided fiction and movies must have a happy ending for me to read or watch them. I don’t like anything depressing or violent. I want to be inspired, to laugh, to learn something amazing, to enter a beautiful new world or the realm of an extraordinary mind.
Here are some books I’ve loved in case you’re out there looking for something new to read for yourself.
For inspiration: Following Atticus. I listened to this on CD read by the author and hated having it end. He followed it up with another incredible book called Will’s Red Coat, through which I wept profusely. Absolutely love these books. Have been giving them to friends who love them too.
For lovable characters and can’t-put-down quirky fun, yet with a profound message, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of my absolute favorites that I’ve read several times. Also incredibly good to listen to on CD while driving.
I love old books and many written before this century. For example, one of my favorites is Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), a marvelously entertaining and humorous account by English writer Jerome K. Jerome of a two-week boating holiday in England, which was published in 1889. I love both reading and listening to it on CD, especially because it’s read by the brilliant Hugh Laurie who has a fabulous British accent, really gets the humor and delivers it well. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.
A surprisingly fascinating book on the history of how color has been used throughout the ages: Color: A Natural History of the Palette.
For incredibly good writing, characters you’ll never forget and really good storytelling, John Steinbeck‘s Cannery Row and Travels with Charley. Cannery Row opens with what I consider to be the best first sentence and paragraph of any book:
Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and the scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants, and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,” and he would have meant the same thing.
For poetry, Louis Swartz’s Constructed of Magic (which we are) and Magic Realized (which we’re capable of). I keep these always by my bedside and read a little before going to sleep. Sometimes also when I wake up in the mornings. Unbelievably uplifting, they fill me with inexpressible optimism and joy.
Wishing you wonderful worlds and books to journey to! Remember, it’s not hoarding if it’s books!