Saturday, January 21, 2006

in which we have a fifth of...literature?

Yes, onward. I have begun to worry about the books left out (and not left out in the rain, though that has indeed happened in my life). And also about how very long it is taking to draw near to current tomes.

But again, in no apparent order (who would believe the shelves in my bookstore are carefully arranged by subject and author--and by my partner's concept of philosophic proximinity; whereby philosophy must be across the store from poetry, yet next to literary criticism, and natural history needs be beside biography)...

but revealing that I am fondest of stories, of fiction (though I read with indiscriminate gluttony)

more favorites

But first--an aside: my favorite thing to do with customers is to guide them to their next Perfect Book. It may not be mine; indeed it often isn't. But if they give me two of three of their own favorite titles, themes, or authors, I can usually hand them the next delight. Sometimes it takes a couple false starts. And over the years there have been a few readers I just couldn't quite suit. But mostly it works. Partner calls it "Jarvenpa's book therapy sessions" (although of course he uses my much less unusual given name.)

Old favorites: I read and reread Jane Austen, whenever all else in life fails, because she is funny and witty (not the same thing) and it is good to escape into another time in which people behaved with passion and foolishness, just as in our own. And the works of the Bronte sisters (yes, I made a pilgrimage to their bleak countryside once long ago). Wuthering Heights, that cruel, excessive, amazing book was a favorite from the time I first read it, when I was much too young--13, perhaps.

And when I was a senior in highschool I sat on a windowsill, barefoot, in the rain, during a break between classes. An extremely uptight teacher witnessed this thoughtless act, and sent me to the principal's office. I was weeping by then, hysterically upset. My perfect record, my honor student status, my recent acceptance at a good college, my entire life--destroyed because I could not restrain myself. Well, it was a high window ledge, third story up, with the trees outside swaying in the warm rain. And it was beautiful.
Principal shuttled me off to my counselor, whom I had last met as we reviewed the options for a fairly impoverished but bright student.
I was still crying.
He brought me a glass of water, gave me a moment to compose myself, and asked what the situation was. I told him: rain, trees, bare feet, wind, joy.
He went to his shelf and brought out a book by a man I hadn't heard of
John Muir.
Yes, I like the works of John Muir very much. My counselor was right--there is a kindred spirit. His stories of wandering the mountains of California, of sitting in trees through storms, of the loveliness of the wildflower abundance of the spring time and the harshness of the high regions are still delight and balm to my spirit, as they were when I was still a barefoot, impulsive teen.

Yes, we'll need a sixth post. And likely a seventh. I haven't even begun to come close to the works that started me making these lists--but you, dear reader, may check out her blog, for which there is a link at outside the windows--her's is that mysterious Palace at 2AM. Her books, The Raven Mocker and Ingledove, are remarkable. (so are her others, but these entered straight into my heart). More on them, and others, next time.


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