Living with Books


Yesterday, my cousin shared a link on Facebook to a piece that the company she works for, Shelf Awareness, had posted regarding the possibility that surrounds books and the places that house them. It piqued my interest and was fun to mentally chew on for a bit. Bookshops, libraries, home stacks — all hold infinite potential that tether and summon a devoted reader in inexplicable ways.

I don’t own Elizabeth Gilbert’s most recent book, Committed: A Love Story (thank you, Seattle Public Library!). But if I did, I would share a passage from it where she describes the feeling she gets when she spots a bookstore on the street. She believes that some women feel the way about babies that she does about books and the that shops sell them. Having no children of my own, I can relate to her explanation of this indescribable, yet visceral tug toward something as benign, yet almost holy, of a book.

I love to look around my house and see books nestled in odd crannies and unexpected places. They are in practically every room of my house. Old wooden wine crates contain my foodie books. They inspire me to be a better cook and start somewhere. Even if it’s just to boil a pot of water and cook some pasta. Small stacks litter my living room with recent finds because I believe that if I see them often enough, I will remember to read them while they’re “fresh.” This rarely works. My kitchen displays the cookbooks I have picked up from library sales or that have been bestowed to me by well-meaning friends that support my nascent efforts to be a home cook. The bathroom is off-limits as I was once told that it’s gauche to have books displayed near one’s toilet. I have real bookshelves in my basement that mostly house the books that I have already read. There are, however, numerous unread books in those basement stacks that were gifted to me by old boyfriends or by my bibliophile mother.

I think an addiction to books is indeed genetic and I can thank my mother for passing on those blessed genes. She dishes out books to me like some mothers dole out food or unsolicited advice. Two standouts: The Bitch in the House & The Bastard on the Couch (hmm, and she wonders why I am not married).¬†She means well and in her heart of hearts, I think that the advice she believes is likely to be gleaned inside the book will compensate for whatever wisdom she has yet to learn herself or can’t express to me in words at the time. Even though I don’t always read the books she gives me, I can never quite find the heart to donate them or pass them on. No doubt I, too, will one day hand my daughter a book and hope it will entertain her or alter her life perspective in some way.

Well, readers, I hope that your home is littered with books, or organized to the nines, or that your library queue is loaded with tons of potentially fantastic reads. As always, thanks for reading.


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