Fifteen books sit on my bedside table. I’d have more there if they’d fit. When we moved to Maine five years ago, we had to eliminate hundreds of books, perhaps thousands, from our beloved library of massive shelves soaring up eleven feet on the second floor overlooking another ten feet of shelves on the first floor. For readers like my husband and me this was heaven! But retiring, downsizing to a quarter of our previous square footage, we had to give away our books to new homes. It was like losing good friends.
When we moved to Maine five years ago, we built narrow bookshelves in the living room of our tiny new home, added some free-standing book units, and filled every inch of space with the books we just couldn’t part with and had to bring with us.
What I didn’t calculate was how many new books we’d be purchasing once here. Exactly where did I think they were going to fit in our crowded little home? This problem accounts for the fifteen books beside my bed and another dozen beside my husband’s bed, plus several dozen more tucked on top of an antique secretary but does not take into account the two I just ordered last week on Amazon!
What I’ve learned is I simply cannot live without books–old ones, heavily underlined; new ones on topics I’ve long intended to explore; and ones whose fresh ideas compel me to order them.
So what sort of books do I read, you ask? For a while I was into WWI and WWII, women in Nazi concentration camps, spies, the Armenian Genocide, Native American history, the entire Maisie Dobbs series, Teachings and Lectures of Edward Kimball, biographies, a book about how the King James Bible was created, various volumes selected by whim of The Harvard Classics (which I’d purchased at a library sale decades ago with the naive intention of reading all 50 volumes before I died), but more recently my reading has included Celtic Christianity, history of the Celts, medieval times, numerous current U.S. political books, and the history of Israel/Palestine. This month I read three by NewYork Times best-selling author, Barbara Brown Taylor: Leaving Church, An Altar in the World, and Holy Envy. And next week Amazon is sending me Beatrice’s Last Smile: A New History of the Middle Ages.
A regular feature of any nightstand I’ve had since childhood has been my pastor: the King James bible and Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. Though I now include numerous other bibles, biblical commentaries, spiritually inspiring works, these all squeeze in to narrow living room shelves.
What would one do without books? I really can’t imagine. To learn and explore ideas is the very essence of life. Books, along with experiences, enable insight, wisdom, humor, and understanding. They open doors to what it means to be human.
Artwork: Ancient Entries Through Celtic Walls, watercolor, approx. 18 x 15″. I have no idea where this painting is. I may have sold it. I painted it about a decade ago on a wonderful trip to Ireland where the land spoke to me at every turn.