Got Books?

Anyone who goes skulking about in the wilds of Bloggieland knows it’s a jungle out there. At first glance, the tangled web of celebrity sites, political rants, sports venues and soft porn seems impenetrable, possibly dangerous and just slightly distasteful.

But given enough time, a willingness to keep cutting away at the undergrowth and perhaps even the lucky discovery of a knowledgeable guide, the intrepid explorer will find real treasure – little patches of civilized discourse hidden away behind the twisted curtains of cant and rant. A bit isolated, often with relatively few visitors and with much lower profiles thanBoing Boing or Gawker, they’re welcoming communities that show real hospitality. Happy to entertain folks who just are passing through, they’re equally willing to support people who think they might like to stop, set and stay a while in such a comfortable place.

The world of book bloggers is one of those patches of civilized discourse. Filled with people who are passionate about books, it offers opportunities for companionship to people who feel out of step with a world where “reading” is associated with fast food menus, press releases and Facebook posts. Equally important, book bloggers offer encouragement to those who once read, stopped reading for one reason or another, and now would like to begin again.

It’s common to think of reading as a solitary experience, but in the world of book bloggers, that’s not necessarily so.  Book bloggers write reviews, participate in group reads, recommend books to one another and follow authors like Jane Austen, Dostoevsky, Haruki Murakami and Pablo Neruda with the intensity of Lady Gaga fans. Like 1950s book clubs and 1850s literary salons, their blogs are gathering places, open to all who think the most magical words in the world are, “Once upon a time…”

It seems a sad fact that reading isn’t for everyone these days, and there are plenty of sociologists, economists, educators and corporate apologists for the publishing industry ready to tell us why that might be so. Luckily, we also have authors who are willing to hold forth on the subject. Their insights often are the sharpest and their arguments among the wittiest and most cogent. Take, for example, this passage from an Ursala Le Guin article written for Harpers magazine.

In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it.
It won’t do the work for you. To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it — everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not “interactive” with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer’s mind. No wonder not everybody is up to it.

For those who are “up to it”, or would like to become up to it, there are opportunities galore. Two of my favorite bloggers, Bellezza of Dolce Bellezza and Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings currently are hosting longer-term reading challenges. AndDewey’s 24-hour Read-a-Thon, scheduled for October 9 and hosted by Eva, Nymeth, Hannah andTrish, is the perfect opportunity to take a plunge back into reading in the simplest way possible: the commitment of one day, a cleared calendar, a pile of favorite snacks and a bigger pile of books.

To take on a reading challenge, to give oneself over to the utter extravagance of a day devoted to books, to seek out new authors or luxuriate in the familiarity of the old is to affirm, in a very particular way, our humanity. We are people of memory and imagination, connected to the hopes, the accomplishments, the aspirations and fears of those who have gone before, and it is in our books that those imaginative memories are compiled and preserved.

As Le Guin says,

“I like knowing that a hard-bitten Wyoming cowboy carried a copy of Ivanhoe in his saddlebag for thirty years, and that the mill girls of New England had Browning Societies. There are readers like that still.”

Indeed there are. You may be one of them. But even if you aren’t, give yourself a chance. Take a challenge, or dedicate a day. Buy a book. Get a library card. Wander the stacks, and wonder at all they contain. Never mind the flashy books, the new books, the hot little numbers with glossy covers and big-name endorsements. Look for the worn books, the well-thumbed books with crinkled pages and broken backs. They’ve been well-loved, and they have something to say. They’re waiting for you, and time is passing.

Clicking the images below will take you to the home page for each Challenge.

Other useful links are found beneath each image, together with my choices for each event.

To paraphrase the old marketing phrase, “Got Books?”

“If you only read books everyone else is reading, you can only think what others are thinking.”
Haruki Murakami, “Norwegian Wood”
Find the welcome page here.
Find the review site here.
Find book suggestionshere.

My own three choices for this year’s challenge are Shoko Tendo’s Yakuza Moon, Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga, and a third, non-literary choice, Japanese Mafia: Yakuza, Law and the State by Peter B.E. Hill.

There are four levels of participation available for Carl’s “R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril V” challenge (RIP V), but only two goals: to have fun, and share that fun with others. The general categories include Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror and Supernatural. If there isn’t something for you in that mix ~ well! You already may be dead!

You can find a place to sign up and plenty of reading suggestions here. My own choices include Neil Gaiman’s M is for Magic and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

With so much reading to do, what could be better than a 24-hour Read-a-thon? Explore the FAQs, learn about Dewey and the history of the event, see what the prizes are and get a general sense of things here. Yes, sleeping and eating are allowed, and if you don’t want to participate in the Read-a-thon, you always can sign up to be a cheerleader!

My goal for the day is to do a straight read-through of John M. Barry’s Rising Tide. Then, if I have time, coffee and chocolate left, it will be pure pleasure reading – a little Faulkner, a re-read of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, or Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood.

And sometime during the day, I’ll go down to our library. It’s not as beautiful as the libraries I’ve shown here, but it’s mine.  Stepping into the hush, I’ll look first toward the main desk to see if “my” librarian is working – the one who was gracious enough not to laugh aloud when I returned as a prodigal reader and asked in complete bafflement what they’d done with the card catalogue.  Then I’ll pass by the bulletin boards, the computer terminals and drawers filled with CDs and begin to climb the stairs.

The fifth tread squeaks. The railing, a rich mahogany slab broader than the broadest hand, could use revarnishing. But the stairs are wide and curved, wide enough to accomodate a whole family of readers as they climb up, turn and climb again toward the luxury of the open stacks.

Standing on the top step, there always are decisions to be made. Search or browse? Sofa or desk? Public or private, cocooned into a carrel at the back?  The answers are unpredictable as the light filtering down through the high, hazy windows.  I never know until the top step which direction I’ll turn.  Yet no matter my decision, one constant remains, a conviction as certain as the shelved delights spread out before me, waiting to be explored:  rich or poor, young or old, educated or barely literate – as long as these libraries exist, we’ll have books enough for a lifetime.

Comments are welcome.  To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

27 thoughts on “Got Books?

  1. I don’t read fast enough to participate but I’ve read so much over the past 10 years my eyes are going bad…then again..maybe its not the reading but just old age.


    You can’t fool me! Those wonderful historical posts you put up show exactly how much you’re reading.

    There seems to be a lot of that creeping age around. I just had the experience of hearing a doctor mutter about cataracts and glaucoma while looking into my eyes, for heavens’ sake. It’s a bit of a shock when it happens, but it certainly does make a person appreciate the gift of sight – not to mention resolve to use it a little more intentionally!


  2. Linda, I love this tribute you give to book bloggers, and more importantly, readers: “We are people of memory and imagination, connected to the hopes, the accomplishments, the aspirations and fears of those who have gone before, and it is in our books that those imaginative memories are compiled and preserved.” That rings exactly true for me!

    I’ll be joining you in reading M for Magic for the RIP V. I loved Yakuza Moon for your Japanese choice; it was such an eye opening work of honesty which showed me a life I never would have dreamed possible. Have you seen photographs of Shoko’s tattoos? Those alone are an amazing glimpse into her life.

    I cannot imagine the blogging world, my blogging world, without you. You continually post thought provoking, soul searching, heart revealing things which seem to mirror my own heart although you say it far more eloquently. I’m humbled to be considered one of your favorite bloggers, as you are indeed one of mine. Blessings on you.


    I have seen Shoko’s tattoos, and was amazed. At first, I thought a particularly creative illustrator had run amok. I’m deep into Peter Hill’s book now, and enjoying it. Context first, then text.

    A tangential note – I saw the photo of the Sansovino Library in Rome at the Librophiliac page and thought of you immediately. I believe you used that as your header image for a time – or at least in a post.

    I’ve lived long enough to have seen a terrible transformation in our society. The loss of memory and the failure of imagination have brought us to a point where only the present matters – and a remarkably banal present at that. The demand for equality of result rather than equality of opportunity has eroded the educational system, as has the demand for “relevance” in course work. Of course I’m a grumpy old woman who’s doing precisely what I hated in “the old folks” when I was a kid, but these are facts, not opinion: when I graduated from high school I’d diagrammed sentences, memorized Latin, learned to speak French, become conversant with the best of American and world literature, become skilled at spotting logical fallacies and knew why 1066 was important.

    Today? You’re a teacher. I don’t have to tell you. I’m just going to do what I can in the time I have left to stave off the Dark Ages. The shadows already are here. I thank you for your kind words, and pray blessings on us all.


  3. In ’83, UBC, I had my own carrel looking over the walkways from the library to the SUB (Student Union Building). I was into Quantum Mechanics and the ebb and flow of students seemed to follow Schroedinger’s Cat.

    One day I pulled a book from the Stacks which turned out to be stereo photos from the Mariner Mars mission with a viewer in the back cover. I looked out on the surface of Mars.


    My favorite carrel ever was at the University of Iowa, up on the top floor, with one high window and the scent of really, really old books in the air. One of the things that made it desirable was the privacy and quiet. Not only that, the desk height was a little higher or lower than most (I can’t remember now) and it was exceptionally comfortable for sleeping. ;-)

    I only heard about Schroedinger’s Cat this year. I was entranced, as I often am by things I don’t understand. I get most of my Heisenberg,, through writers like Annie Dillard. Watered down, maybe, but thought provoking nonetheless.


  4. Linda – left a long and, as always, rambling comment on the other site. :)

    I popped in here to point out that the quote from Le Guin just reinforces the ‘core knowledge’ issues we have touched on recently.

    While here, I found several BSO’s and crept into Bellezza’s blog, leapfrogging from link to link and now I have just 2 minutes left of blog time left for the day – you should take that as a compliment!


    Re: core knowledge, see my reply to Bellezza, above. This is more than a pet peeve with me, although it certainly is that. I need to get myself over to Bug’s blog and hold forth there a bit, too.

    You fight the battle where you can. One of my personal obsessions is less/fewer. I can’t tell you the number of managers who’ve heard my suggestion that they change their express lane signs to “Fifteen items or fewer”. I know, I know…. Some people would say I need to get over myself. But I can’t help it. I was raised in a world where spelling counts. Learning the rules in order to break them is one thing. Being too lazy or unconcerned to learn them in the first place is another – and far too many who are in a position to help others learn (formally or informally) don’t care themselves.

    Well. Now that I’ve got my blood flowing, I’d better get myself on to work. I don’t have any blog time left at all, and you should take that as a compliment!


  5. I won’t be joining these challenges, though I challenge myself to read daily. Actually, I tend to fly though books by the series when they capture me.

    As soon as I finish my blog hopping I’ll be heading to the treadmill with a (couple of) good book/s in tow. :-)


    Anyone who can handle a treadmill and a book at the same time has my absolute admiration. I know, I know. I’ve seen the pics – “everyone” does it. Everyone except those of us who belong in the genus “can’t walk and chew gum”, that is!

    Because I’ve tended toward non-fiction I haven’t done much series reading, but I’ve become entranced by Ivan Doig, who wrote “The Whistling Season”, and may try a few more of his. I’m probably late to that particular party, as I see Oprah has her name in the review snippets, but I’ll not hold that against the author. I had a great Aunt who taught in a one room school, and Doig has helped me think about her in some new ways.

    So nice to see you – thanks for stopping by!


  6. How do you know if you have enough books? Your 60-year-old house that has stood the test of time now needs jacking up and new piers placed under the reading room. Cracked the concrete porch in two, right down the middle.

    I just started a bio of Beryl Markum. Ken ETA- how do you know your are getting old? Your doctor advises you to stop and rest while travelling (from the bedroom to the kitchen!).


    What a pleasure to have you stop by. Sorry about the need for repairs, but I can’t help laughing at the thought of all of that “weighty knowledge” doing in your porch!

    Beryl Markham is one of my absolute favorites. I was given her book “West With the Night” when I was in Liberia, and it’s been one of those read-and-re-reads for me for thirty years. I read it first as a book about Africa. Then, when I began sailing in 1987, I discovered so many parallels between sailing and her aviation career, not the least that she began learning to fly in a Gipsy Moth, the name of Sir Francis Chichester’s boat. Did you know that on her solo flight from Nairobi to London she wore an inner tube around her neck as a life preserver?!

    I only found out this past year that Markham probably didn’t write the book – that honor belonged to her third hubbie, Raoul Schumacher. I don’t really care. To me, it’s Beryl Markham’s life and story – who knows what else I’ll find in it through the years?

    I’m doing a little more resting these days myself – it’s been a summer for slowing down a bit because of the danged heat. But with luck the fronts will get her before a hurricane does, and it’ll be time for open windows to go with the open books!

    Again, so good to hear from you.


  7. May a million love bugs find a safe haven in your wet varnish! Four new links I have to pursue regularly. I’ll NEVER be able to get away from the screen now!!!


    Honestly, you’re not going to believe this. I swear on a stack of good lit’rature it’s true. I saw my first love bugs in months today. “Good gosh,” I thought. “Where’d they come from?” Now I know. Thanks, You! At least they weren’t swarming. I suspect they were scouts, or harbingers of Hurricane Matthew, still stirring down there in the Carib. In the past two days I’ve seen the love bugs, the first jellies of the year and mounding fire ants. Time to pay attention.

    Enjoy the links. I figure if I’m going to spend all this time lurking around on this machine, I might as well drag as many folks with me as I can!


  8. What a terrific, motivating post! I’m not sure right now is my best time to join the challenges, but I feel compelled to check them out! (Getting ready for a November show with no inventory!)

    I have to say I’ve been reading more this year — already topped last year’s reading by three books, and it’s only September. And they’ve been across the map — bios and mysteries, fiction and non, funny and essay. I like mixing it up! You do a great service by bringing us these links. Thanks!


    At first I thought, “But she has plenty of time!” Then I stopped to think – we’re almost to October. It’s so hard down here, with the on-going heat and continuing threat of storms, to realize the rest of the country is happily tripping toward the gentle insanity of the holiday season! I know you’ll have fun getting ready.

    I was thinking of you today and wondering – has PBS ever done a documentary on beautiful libraries? If you don’t do anything else, scroll through the Librophiliac’s Love Letters, and check out the links at the bottom of those scrumptious photos. And check the PBS archives. If they haven’t produced anything, maybe in your spare time you should put together a memo to the high mucky-mucks in charge of programming or whatever and suggest they get after it. Or give Ken Burns a call and tell him to promote it. Stranger things have happened! :-)

    I’m glad you enjoyed the links. It was fun putting them together, and everyone involved with the challenges themselves has done terrific work – they deserve a little extra pub!


  9. Thanks for a wonderful tribute to books, reading, book blogging, and libraries. Those are magnificent photos you have posted here. I’ve been a book lover all my life, but it’s only after I started blogging that I’ve learned to be a ‘disciplined’ reader. Writing about books makes me more sensitive and observant while reading, and participating in book challenges brings the joy of sharing. You’re so right about the blogosphere being indebted to book lovers.

    Book challenges indeed are great adventures. I’m your fellow participant in Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge . But after Oe’s Rouse Up … I needed a break. I have another challenge to meet, just like to mention that here since it’s very much book related, and the other part is right up my alley: Ready When You Are C.B.’s “Read the Book, See the Movie challenge”. I have yet to fulfill my commitment. After I’m done with my travel posts (soon), I’m going to be kept really busy for the rest of this year, reading, watching, and writing!

    Again, thanks for the camaraderie! :)


    Do note that Carl has added something to this year’s RIP Challenge – a film category! You know me – little Ms. Rarely-Tempted-Toward-Film. But I’ve been thinking a good bit about how much I enjoyed the PBS “Mystery” series – especially that intro music and the Edward Gorey art. I might give that a go, too. I’ll bet there are DVDs. I’ve already found this:

    Your reviews for Japanese Literature 4 were part of what nudged me toward participation. The relative strangeness of the world and the difficulty I experienced even getting through the reviews were striking – but Tendo and the world of the Yakuza have parallels in my own experience, so that may be a “way in”.

    I was thinking tonight that a “Re-Reading Challenge” would be fun, too. All of us have books that we do re-read from time to time, and I was struck by how many I’d like to pull out for the Read-a-Thon. And then, of course, there’s the group discussion scheduled at my library in a month or so for “Elegance of the Hedgehog”! But I think I’ll pass on that. I seem to remember someone offering advice recently on distractions!


  10. I wouldn’t mind reading The Woman in White. Maybe this year is the year…


    I didn’t know a thing about the book until I picked the title out of Carl’s list and read the Wiki. The fact that it’s “old” intrigues me – since I don’t do much genre reading, starting with the start of a genre could be really fun!

    Thanks so much for stopping by. You’re welcome any time!


  11. I am happy to have found your blog on Blog Surfer. I try to balance my blogging with time to read and time to improve my Russian. Book Mooch helps keep me connected to people who are enthusiastic readers in English.

    Good evening, Rob,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and for leaving your gracious comment. The great balancing act is always an issue, isn’t it? So many books, so many blogs, so many worthy projects – an embarassment of riches, for sure.

    Book Mooch and Goodreads are both fine sites, and if you browse around through the blogrolls and links on the sites I’ve linked to here, you should find something to appeal.

    Happy reading!


  12. I have never read David Sedaris. I think after years of reading tons of academic literature (it’s all I read, frankly!) it’s time for funny business!!


    Glad I came back this morning. It appears WordPress “ate” my comments during their outage last evening.

    Until you mentioned him, I’d never heard of David Sedaris. Now I have someone else to explore. And I certainly can appreciate a need to move beyond academic literature. One of the most freeing moments of my life was the day I peeked back into a few of my own books and thought, “Gonzo!” As in, “gone”, not as in Hunter Thompson.

    On the other hand, when I need to lighten my perspective, I still turn to Tom Wolfe. A few years in California in the 70s is perfectly captured in “Mau Mauing the Flak Catchers”, not to mention the high hilarity of the essays contained in “The Purple Decades”. A little biting social commentary is good for the soul, and political correctness has pulled a few teeth!


  13. It’s a little disheartening that there is so much treasure hidden between the covers of books I’ll never open, yet I knew instantly who Lady Gaga is. I don’t mind having to sift through the dirt for an occasional gold nugget, but someone keeps delivering more dirt faster than I can sift.

    On a brighter note, your posts are always golden and rich and inspiring, in content and style, in prose and illustration. Thank you for yet another gem.


    On a more positive note, there are millions of books and only one Lady Gaga. Besides, if you show up in public dressed in T-bones and flank steak, even the furiously non-attentive (like me) are going to be forced to look at least once. I can guarantee you Luther never conceived of anything like our pop culture, but I keep finding uses for his great line: “You can’t keep the birds from flying around your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.” The Hiltons and Lohans and Gagas of the world won’t be doing any nest-building in my immediate neighborhood, thank you.

    This was a wonderfully fun post to write, even though the library sites became a serious distraction for a while. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  14. Hi Linda,
    I read this on your WU Blog and left comment there but also wanted to come here just to make sure I had read everything. I love it and I love books!
    and I love reading your stories.


    Now and then I double-post, if I think it’s something that’s really worthy of attention – as books are! One of my three resolutions at the New Year was “more disciplined reading”. I’ve not done a thing about that until now, but the year isn’t over, and these challenges feel like a good first step.

    Nothing warms the heart more than a faithful reader, and that surely is you. I appreciate it so much!


  15. There are so many wonderful book bloggers out there, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of that community too. It’s caused my to-be-read pile to grow by leaps and bounds, to the point that I don’t know whether I’ll ever catch up. But it’s sure fun trying.


    Of course we’ll never catch up! Not unless we set ourselves absurdly small goals. Book reading’s like blogging, anyway. The point isn’t to count the number of words written, or page views, or books read. The point is engagement, enjoyment and changed perspectives. Well, at least if it isn’t, it should be. ;-)

    On the other hand, I hope to get caught up on my housework before the readathon. I don’t think I could read without distraction at this point – yet another good reason to head for the library!


  16. Linda, stopping back after a too-busy-to-blog summer. Thanks for the links!

    I imbibe books these days mostly as downloaded audiobooks from the public library, and I’ve been steadily working my way through Gaiman. I recommend The Anansi Boys – quite wild and sweet. (I occasionally take a look at his blog, too, which is what actually got me interested in reading his books.)

    I am grateful for the time and thought and passion you put into your writing. I’ll check out these links and see if anything listed is also available for as literature for listening.

    Mary Ellen,

    I hope you’re not being terribly affected by the bad weather up there. I’ve been hearing stories of the flooding through a friend here, and none of it’s pleasant.

    I tried audio books at work once, thinking all of those hours on the dock could be put to more effective use. Unfortunately, I’d become so involved in listening to the stories my work productivity plummeted. Better to just think, apparently.

    Thanks for the recommendation. I thought about joining RIP IV last year, but those genres just never have appealed. This year, I decided appealing or not, it was time to give it a try. Besides, Carl puts such work into the challenge, I like the thought of supporting him by participating.

    My mother, bless her heart, wishes I’d get paid for my writing. I read your words about “time and thought and passion” and think, “I do, Mom. I do.”


  17. Oh, I am so glad that you are in JLC IV and RIP V!! Can’t wait to read your thoughts on Shoko Tendo’s memoir; it is truly an eye-opener (Bellezza’s right: her tatoos are spectacular). Someday I’d like to read The Woman in White also. Read The Moonstone last year and loved it–a good sign, I think!

    The book bloggers are very special people, and a true community in this oft-fragmented world of blogs. Enjoy your time with the challenges and the read-a-thon, you who claimed so adamantly when we first “met” that you were a “non-reader” (to which I said, and continue to say HAH!) ;)


    I do remember that comment. I suppose I still stand by it, not in the sense of not enjoying books or wanting to read them, but just in terms of the sheer difficulty of getting it done. I’d do a lot more reading if I didn’t spend so much time on my blog – but that puts us right back in the middle of the discussion about priorities. If only sleep weren’t a necessity. Well, and work….

    In any event, the Readathon’s coming. I may have to do some Challenge reading on that day rather than what I had planned – but that’s ok, too.


  18. “If you only read books everyone else is reading, you can only think what others are thinking.”

    Love that.

    I can’t tell you how much I miss reading – the eyes are so bad. I’ve decided to start listening to books again. It isn’t quite the same but it’s still enjoyable.


    Given a choice, I’d read rather than listen, too. But my own eye issues, though not keeping me from reading, have alerted me to the fact that things change, and I’d better enjoy what I can, while I can.

    I don’t mind audio books, although as I mentioned I tend to begin focusing on them so much I can’t do anything else while listening! I’m not sure that’s supposed to be how it works. ;-) Thank goodness we have such options, though. I remember the days when people who’d lost their vision had to depend on friends and relatives to read to them – can you imagine folks doing such a thing today?

    Actually, I’d forgotten until just now one of the activities available to us to earn merit badges in Camp Fire – going to nursing homes and reading to people. I wonder if they still do that?


  19. During my decades before the arrival of the Internet, I gradually assembled a library of works ranging from R.K. Narayan and Graham Greene to history and travel writing, although these days, I must say that I’m more likely to be online reading the news — or a blog post, like right now!

    Before our recent move to Chile, a multilingual niece here insisted that I bring my entire collection with me. My many boxes of books are in storage at the moment, but soon, I’m going to be getting them up on new shelves, and with more time available in retirement, I’ve decided to through them once again.

    As a final note, I’ll tell you of something I find quite curious here in Chile, concerning books, and that is that in a country with such a rich literary tradition, and where bookstores abound, that the travel writing genre is (to all appearances) totally unknown, as witnessed by its absence from the shelves, in either Spanish or English. What a disappointment for me, as that’s what I’m right into these days, as an accompaniment to my interest in travel photogaphy. I’m halfway through V.S. Naipaul’s, India: A Million Mutinies Now, and don’t know where I’ll turn next for a good read in this area.

    And finally, I’ll say that from what I’ve written here, I think I’d better start doing a bit more serious writing on my own blog…


    I confess – after lugging boxes and boxes of books hither and yon, many of them were dispersed. Some were sold, but many, especially professional resources, were donated to students, libraries and such.

    The culling of books is an especially interesting process. Now, although my personal library is quite small, every book in it is one I cherish and am emotionally attached to in one way or another. The books themselves have become keepsakes of periods in my intellectual life – it sounds a little funny to say so, but don’t we all have “periods”, like painters? I still laugh at a certain time in my earliest college life when we all were so intense, so cool. We’d sit around coffee shops and bash one another over the head with quotations from people like Sartre. I like to say we caught existentialism like the measles. ;-)

    That’s quite interesting, about the travel writing. I love travel writing, and have attempted just a bit of it myself in my Mississippi blogs. You may know these authors, but their books are on my shelves and I highly recommend them. For a glimpse into America, you can’t do better than William Least Heat-Moon, his “Blue Highways” and “The Road to Quoz”. The other writer I love is Paul Theroux. You surely know his work, although you may not know he’s written a study of V.S. Naipaul. My favorite of his is “The Happy Isles of Oceania”. Perhaps now I’ll have to take on “The Old Patagonian Express”!

    Your photographs are so very eloquent on their own, but it would be delightful to see them framed in words now and then. Text and context, so to speak….


  20. What a wonderful, wonderful post, Linda ! I love books and a day withought reading is not complete. I have just finished reading Murakami’s trilogy “1Q84”. I simply could not stop turning its 1300 pages but would not know where to start to write a review. So dense and with so many characters and aspects that need consideration. In any case I love what you wrote, the pictures of fabulous libraries and your encouragements to read. Thank you very much for this very meaningful post.

    To thank you more, here is a link (if you do not mind) of our ancient library in St Gall (Switzerland).

    1. Isa,

      I’m so glad you commented here, for a variety of reasons. One is that I enjoyed looking at the photos of the libraries again, and having you add the St. Gall library to the mix. What a beautiful and interesting place it is! And it’s quite wonderful that it’s been named a world heritage site. It warms my heart to think of a library joining such natural wonders as Machu Picchu.

      I have a couple of blog friends who are tremendous fans of Japanese literature. They’ve read a good bit and posted reviews. You can find introductions to their blogs here and here . You’ll quickly find that the riches extend far beyond Japanese literature. Bellezza’s current post on red lipstick is delightful! It’s perhaps also worth noting for you that English is Arti’s second (or third?) language. As with you and my commenter Omar, she puts many native English speakers to shame.

      You remind me of my own commitment at the beginning of the year to read more. A writer who doesn’t read is an impossibility. I may have to give up housecleaning to make room for books. ;)


  21. I didn’t realize this post was two years old until I read someone’s comment of how many books she’d read this year and its only September. Huh? How funny. What a great idea. Did you read all the books? I don’t have time to read anymore. Inbetween working and blogging I can only manage to keep up with the New Yorker… the Japanese book you mentioned sounds fascinating. I think I may get it. Did you read it?

    1. dearrosie,

      Oh, my goodness. I fell so short of reading them all! But the ones that didn’t get read are neatly stacked around. I did read “Confessions of a Yakuza” and half of “The Woman in White”. I can’t remember why I didn’t finish that one. Distracted by something, I’m sure.

      I just laughed at your comment about work, blogging and The New Yorker. How well I know that syndrome! But I’m going to be a better reader, I swear. I’ll get more organized. I’ll set aside time. I’ll stop sleeping….

      I didn’t read the one about the pilgrimage, but I absolutely trust any recommendation the fellow makes about Japan, its art or literature. If I’d done the Camino, I’d want to read it for sure. It would make a fascinating series of blog posts, comparing and contrasting your experience in Spain with the Japanese experience.


  22. Books—no pop-up advertisements, no distracting links, no ISP necessary, no wall socket needed. Books, that themselves can be works of art—and which can be passed on to friends and family. Books (printed books) that cannot be changed without notice (think the long reach of Amazon).

    This past August I had the cataracts removed from both of my eyes. Today, April 1st, was our first warm and beautiful day after a long, cold Michigan winter. I seized the opportunity and rode my bike to a nearby park and for the first time in several years I was able to sit outdoors, in the sunlight (wearing sunglasses of course) and read a book. It was a delight.

    1. Well! Your comment certainly is apropos. If all goes well, and on schedule (there are a few complexities) I’ll be having my first cataract surgery on April 22, and the second two weeks later. Because I’ve always worn hard contact lenses, there’s a need to allow my eyes to go back to their natural shape before proceeding, but that’s a matter of patience more than anything else.

      My vision isn’t so good right now, with these “interim glasses,” and I’m irritated at missing the wildflower season, but with luck, I’ll be able to find a tree, a book, and an afternoon myself once this all is over.

  23. What a joyful and stimulating post! I like Le Guin’s words about the silence of a book, and think that might be one reason why a book does draw me to itself; every book is sitting there silently communicating that I can open its cover and suddenly be quiet and private, but not lonely at all, not even alone, but in the company of some other fascinating human mind….

    1. I’ve tried to make use of the Kindle I finally purchased, but the experience is so different and, for me, entirely unappealing. For one thing, everything looks the same on an e-reader; there’s nothing to distinguish one book from another. With books, the paper, the font, the cover, the heft — together with the actions of reading — are so immensely satisfying, I can’t imagine giving them up.

      I’m so glad you found this post, and enjoyed it. With eight years of posts now (and most of them not properly organized) I sometimes forget what I’ve written — or how much my writing has improved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.