Skip to main content

And the books set sail . . .

to new destinations! It was fun and meaningful to meet and greet our books' new navigators. The first customers came from Recycled Books in Denton, TX--one of the world's best used book stores. Their knowledgeable buyers moved swiftly among shelves and tables as if they had radar guiding them straight to great selections, especially in art: Lindner, Marini, Charlot, and O'Keeffe and Company. The signed John Howard Griffin and John Faulkner volumes also went to Recycled.

Our friend Josh, a trombone player and archeology student, made a beeline for the Nobel Literature Prize Library, while his 6'4" friend Thomas misplaced Robinson Crusoe and had to search for the lost wanderer before checking out with his bounty of some 45 other books. My friend Julie bought the first edition Southern Legacy by Hodding Carter, saying that she was glad it was a first edition, but even happier that it still had my mother's signature in it from those first edition days.

Our father was a college professor for many years, and some of his former students found their way to the sale. One radiant young mother, in a neon-striped sundress, holding her baby in her arms, told me that our father had inspired her to become a college English teacher. She was delighted to find underlined books from her former mentor. (Some of us write every book we read. The practice runs in our family, from multicolor underlining and highlighting to writing our own essays and poems on end pages.)

Our friend Mary had lost many recipe books in a flood and was able to replenish her culinary library for just $5 with some of our cookbooks, including the Gasparilla Cookbook with a dashing Creole character claiming most of the front cover. She also walked away with a volume on postmodernism and primitivism to read in her spare time.

There were great moments that only book people understand, especially this recurring one, where someone would say: "I shouldn't be doing this, but I can't resist." And they would come to the check-out table, staggering slightly as they balanced the tower in their arms.

When I read designer Peter Walsh's all-too-realistic number for how many books fit in 12 horizontal inches of shelf space, I felt a visceral lurch. But, there's horizontal space above that, I thought, and sometimes paperbacks squeeze to allow a few more tomes into those 12 inches, and sometimes you can shelve books in double layers, or stack them horizontally or . . . no limits, no limits! I want to say. (No, I will not reveal the number. You'll have to buy another book to find out what it is! Or perhaps, like me, you don't really want to know.)

The most magic moment came at the end of the day, speaking with another former student of my father's. He owns and operates a restaurant in a small Texas town and has a Master's degree in English. He was dressed in crisp, pressed grey Western slacks and one of the best-looking pairs of tan leather cowboy boots any of us had ever seen. "What I love best," he said, "is to go into a room, take a book from a shelf, and open it--just open it--with no plan in mind. Right there, on that page, I nearly always find something. I make a discovery, and I can take that discovery into my hands and keep reading. That's what books give me, and I wouldn't want to live without that."

Me neither! Our family booksale reminded me that, if you can read, there is nothing you cannot learn to do or see or think. It reminded me, once again, that book people are beautiful--the kind of beautiful people that can create, analyze, discover or even save a world. A voluminous thought, indeed.


I really enjoyed returning to find out where your books ended up. Sounds like they found loving owners. Book lovers rule!

Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Whose day?

Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:

The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue, Whose sleeves have brushed past? Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?
Iro yori mo ka koso awaredo omohoyure tagasode fureshi ado no ume zo mo
The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your don't need to open it... you know tha…