NO LONGER THERE TO BE SEEN

I have a beautiful bookshelf, tucked into the wall of our living room, that contains a plethora of books. I have an old rocker next to the bookshelf and a decent lamp that gives adequate light for reading.

Sometimes, when people step into our home, they can’t see me sitting there, almost like I’m invisible. Or, maybe, I have literally stepped into the book I am reading and am no longer there to be seen.

The other day, I picked The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, by David L. Ulin from my bookshelf, a book I purchased in Casper, Wyoming at Wind City Books, March of 2014.

I like to make a note of when and where I acquire a book. A memory will surface when reading the note, a feeling of paper and printed word. I’m comforted with that past-connection. When a note is not present, I feel I am missing something tangible similar to a piece missing from a puzzle — the picture isn’t complete.

Books took me to places where I could dream big and walk tall, solve mysteries and overcome adversity. They were my friends and confidants, fellow travelers and mischievous hobnobbers. I never went anywhere without a book. I still don’t, most of the time, and quickly regret not bringing one if I’ve forgotten to toss one into my bag.

Currently, I’m reading, Great American Short Stories from Hawthorne to Hemingway. I read these stories and wonder what happened to our language. Why do we use so few words today? Maybe if we used more and thought about what we were saying we’d spend more time breathing rather than talking. Maybe we’d know more about what we were saying and why we were saying it.

Herman Melville has a great short story called Bartleby the Scrivener in this collection. Melville is humorous and talented. Here’s a funny excerpt:

“[…]yet, in the afternoon he was disposed, upon provocation, to be slightly rash with his tongue — in fact, insolent. Now, valuing his morning services as I did, and resolved not to lose them — yet, at the same time, made uncomfortable by his inflamed ways after twelve o’clock — and being a man of peace, unwilling by my admonitions to call forth unseemly retorts from him, I took upon me one Saturday noon (he was always worse on Saturdays) to hint to him, very kindly, that perhaps, now that he was growing old, it might be well to abridge his labors; in short, he need not come to my chambers after twelve o’clock, but, dinner over, had best go home to his lodgings and rest himself till teatime. But no; he insisted upon his afternoon devotions. His countenance became intolerably fervid, as he oratorically assured me — gesticulating with a long ruler at the other end of the room — that if his services in the morning were useful, how indispensable, then, in the afternoon?”

With less words, we do have shorter sentences, unlike this excerpt that’s two sentences long but a full paragraph, though thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe there are some benefits to less words.

If you’re a lover of books, what are you reading? Do you make note of when and where you acquire a book? Curious minds want to know.

 

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  1. As I read this Melville excerpt I was reminded of the book, “All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac Mcarthy, just because he also uses punctuation sparingly. I pulled out my copy and read in an end page endorsement, “Not since Melville…..”. I enjoyed that connection. Actually, ” Moby Dick” is the only Melville I recall reading.

    I become fascinated by the settings of books and will look for other books set in the same place. On a couple of instances I had to go explore the place myself.

    Right now I’m re-reading “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling. I recommended it to someone trekking in India and while describing the plot, I decided to enjoy it again. I’m also reading a John Sanford detective novel featuring Virgil Flowers, a favorite character.

    I don’t keep track of the origin of my books. Most of them seem to just pass through our house either coming or going to another reader. We also have a “Little Free Library” in front of our house. It’s fun to see what shows up and what disappears quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoy looking for similar settings too, or a particular era that catches my interest. I love historical novels that give me a glimpse of what used to be and what is still the same. There were a ton of free libraries in Casper. I never had one in front of my house, and still don’t, but I love the idea of them. There are so many books out there that I know nothing about, so there is always benefit in seeing what others are reading. Thanks for commenting!

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