I have lots of reasons for loving physical books—the feel of the pages between my fingers, the variety of fonts, the smell of the paper and the glue in the binding, the way they look lined up on a shelf. I love all sorts of libraries—big and little.
On Saturday I went to the opening of the Maud/Olson Library in Gloucester, a huge effort undertaken by Ralph Maud to bring together all the works the poet Charles Olson was known to have owned, referred to, or read. The library operates under the auspices of the Gloucester Writers Center. For the moment, the books are organized alphabetically by title, so E.E. Cummings and Agatha Christie are half a shelf apart (perhaps the only time in public too). There are other wonderful juxtapositions but I mention the library this morning as I write because after several years of writing fiction I stood in a library packed with serious nonfiction, including many titles I had known and worked with. It was like coming home. http://www.gloucesterwriters.org
My library is similar to a garden. I add plants and weed out others. I trim and move and replace. We began years ago with pansies and now we have roses and the pansies are relegated to pots on the porch, where they thrive. I can’t say my library is a true rose garden, but both garden and library are works in progress.
My thoughts on books today are prompted in part by an appeal I came across for donations to
Books seem to have become both expensive and disposable, turning into a mass of clutter the minute you carry them out of the store. I donate to the library book sale every year, and usually buy as many as I donate. But the library has trouble recycling the books to other sellers at the end of their sale. We have a huge second-hand bookstore in our area, but most online sellers are picky about what they will take. So when I saw the appeal for books (and yes, suitable for a school but not textbooks) I was excited, delighted, and went searching for titles to send. Someone out there wants (yes, WANTS) books.
The person making the request asked only for one book from anyone reading the piece, but I’m sending at least four and maybe more. I’m so happy to send them where they’ll be valued.
To read more, go here. The article is about two-thirds down in the list. And as I turn my attention to photographs to illustrate this piece, I think about how easy it is to make me happy (or anyone else who loves books).
The two books of my own I'm sending are mystery novels that I think will be appropriate for high-school students because my friends' children read them. I'm sending Last Call for Justice and Come About for Murder. In addition, I'm sending two memoirs by young women and some nonfiction about the West.