• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Today we were invited to brunch. Our host has a library containing 13,000 volumes. The two rooms where the collection is largely housed resemble a small bookstore. Clippings and reviews sprout from the heads of books. As I went deeper into the stacks, I was in awe of the organization as shelf after shelf marched from one period of history to the next. No mere alphabetization here, this was the work of a beautiful mind.

We immediately regretted selling off half our collection when we moved, and talked about the difficult process of purging books. Our host said it wasn’t about purging for him, but allowing a book through the door in the first place. Then he laughed, he was due to give a speech in a few weeks about books in the digital age. Of course we are all tired of this conversation even as it threatens to consume our lives and livelihoods. We are all book people, not a Kindle or Nook loving one among us. Why is the laughter nervous?

Home now, surrounded by my piles of books I feel safe. After a minor meltdown at Ikea, I’ve put buying a book case on hold so there are piles everywhere. All I know is that these piles are as good a description of  me as you’ll find. My fits, my starts, my passions. I could probably tell you where I was when I read each one, which moment in my life a book marked;  just the spine or jacket image can flood me with memories.  I think it’s absurd to believe that books will disappear. Then again, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

9 Responses

  1. Founded circa 300bc, the Great Library of Alexandria is the most famed literary repository of the ancient world, located in the back lot of Nourishingfriends, the ancient writer who abides within covets every damn book and, by sheer vodoo magic, puts a curse on anyone trying to steal one of her magnificent Medieval Tomes, especially the City of God by what’s his name.

  2. Detroit unpaves parking lots in attempt to create agrarian paradise. http://ideas.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/plowing-detroit-into-farmland/

  3. We live in a small house and purge books on a regular basis. Mostly we turn them in a used bookstore and get credit against the purchase of future used books. When I scan the shelves of the bookstore, more often than not I see books that used to be in my house. And for some reason that gives me comfort. Like our local bookstore is the community bookshelf–an extension of everyone’s house.

  4. I bought a book in 1982 that I’ve never read and can’t stand to look at but can’t throw out. I got it in Paris the day after I flew there from Niamey, Niger after my two-year stint in the Peace Corps. I went to a bookstore and was so bedazzled (I hadn’t seen a bookstore for two years!) that I spent way too much money (265 francs) on a big fat book about the art of embroidery in French. I lugged it all the way back to the states and kept thinking I was going to plow through the text some day, but things kept getting in the way, mostly my buyer’s remorse. And the fact that the book reminds me of the two years I wasted in the Peace Corps. But I can’t throw it out.

    In the future, when ebooks cost a penny, nobody will have this problem.

  5. When I moved from apartment to apartment before we bought a house, I always moved my books and purged some each time. I had no choice due to space and carrying ability. Now that I have a home with shelves, I find myself collecting more books than ever–which necessitates piles.

    I totally know where you’re coming from with the piles.

  6. My high school’s detention was in the library. Caught skipping school senior year this foster kid spent her week long punishment in the 800’s discovering e.e. cummings, Eliot, Sara Teasdale and Plath. Plath. What did I believe was possible for me before that? Nothing.

  7. My basement/family room was recently damaged by a flood. I had kept all our books down there. Now the basement is repaired, and I’ve have been up and down the stairs with load after load after load of books. My back aches, and I have more books to move. All I’ve got to say is “thank you Steve Jobs.” I love my iPod and my Kindle app. It feels just as good to run my finger across the screen as to turn a page.

  8. a poem –

    My Books (Jorge Luis Borges)

    My books (which do not know that I exist)
    are as much a part of me as is this face,
    the temples gone to grey and the eyes grey,
    the face I vainly look for in the mirror,
    tracing its outline with a concave hand.
    Not without understandable bitterness,
    I feel now that the quintessential words
    expressing me are in those very pages
    which do not know me, not in those I have written.
    It is better so. The voices of the dead
    will speak to me for ever.

  9. I lost books in a bitter divorce with a quick move-out and I will never forget them. I actually remember where I was when I read many of them. I lost (had to hurry to get the hellout and thus left behind) a paperback copy of The Golden Notebook that I’d scribbled notes all up and down the inside of the first pages. I’m still sick over it, and I’ve since remarried and had two children. I don’t miss Clown Boy one damn bit, but Christ, I miss my books. I’ve bought new copies, but it’s just not the same.

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