My Library

Occasionally, I have moments where I get this profound sense of well-being. Not often … but occasionally. They take me unawares.

I’ve had a couple of these well-being moments over the last couple of extremely stressful days (when anxiety buzzes through my head like a swarm of bees – I’m not kidding …) … and both moments had to do with my enormous random library of books.

I finished off Will in the World early this morning (being unable to sleep because of the damn bees in my head) … Now I have a lot more I want to say about the book, which I found perfectly wonderful. Loved every second of it. Anyway, at one point – Greenblatt was comparing Marlowe’s Tamburlaine to one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays … Now, I love Marlowe, always have … Anyway, there was a line by line analysis of some of the monologues. So. Up I get. I go to the bookcase. I scan. I find my copy of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine and I begin to investigate the situation myself.

I LOVE that. I don’t know why it fills me with peace … but it DOES. It sure quieted down those dern bees.

I feel like my father in those moments. A reference library, geared towards my own individual interests, right in my own house.

The other moment, forgive me, was also this morning – only a bit later (we’re talking at around 7 am). I had finished off Will in the World. I took about 10 minutes to revel in the book. Thinking about it, looking through the pages again.

I went to get some more coffee. I caught sight of the huge biography I have of Samuel Goldwyn, sitting in my bookcase in the kitchen … I randomly picked it up. Started flipping through it. Now – because I just saw Ball of Fire, and because I knew that it had been produced by Goldwyn, I took the book back into my main room, sat down with the coffee, and started reading the Ball of Fire section.

And I got, again, this odd flush of well-being. Like: I was able to think to myself: “Wow, it would be fun to hear what Goldwyn thought of that movie … and it would be interesting to know the backstory of it …” and then – voila – I happen to have a biography of Goldwyn in my house. I LOVE that. I am able to generate my own instant gratification in those moments.

Most of these books I pick up second-hand … a ton of them I have never read before – although most of them I have … but I enjoy having them THERE. Even though they’ve always been a pain in my ass when I move. I like being able to look stuff up in the moment that the thought occurs to me.

I have the books at my fingertips … if I’m ever in need.

“Quick … what were Elia Kazan’s thoughts on acting with James Cagney?” Boom. I can tell you.

“Quick … what were Tennessee Williams’ thoughts on DH Lawrence?” Boom. I’ve got it.

“Quick … what was Montenegro’s response to the attempts at Turkish conquest?” Got it. No worries.

Gives me a feeling of peace. Relaxation, I suppose. Which I need these days.

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11 Responses to My Library

  1. mitch says:

    Quick! Jack Morris’ career ERA against the Yankees!

    Nah, sounds like you have the kind of library I lust after.

    Although for future reference, I’m not aware that Montenegro ever tried to conquer Turkey. FYI.

  2. red says:

    Montenegro successfully resisted Turkish conquest … er … that’s what I was TRYING to say.

    (Yeah, that’s it …)

  3. Curtis says:

    It must be an old book thing… I get the same feeling when I revisit old books, old characters that I haven’t ‘talked’ to in a while. There is just something comforting about breaking out those old books…

  4. ricki says:

    For me, the “old books” thing carries with it the memories of where you were at in life at the time…I bought a copy of “Woodstock Craftsman’s Manual” (yes, it is just as hippie as it sounds) from a used-book store simply because I remembered checking it out of the library when I was a kid…and when I go back and read the articles in it (on quilting, needlepoint, sandalmaking – I’ve tried many of the things in the books but never that last one) I am reminded of myself as a pre-teen, thinking it would be cool to live off the land. And it takes me back to my “beginner’s mind” in those crafts, when I was first trying them out, and hadn’t added on all the layers of experience and “you must do it THIS was” and all that crap, and it’s fresh and new again.

    I have a big thing about tracking down and buying copies (and sometimes spending some serious cash on an OOP book) of books I had and loved to death, or checked out of the library every chance I got, as a kid.

  5. red says:

    ricki: I love that. I have that, too. My mother has it IN SPADES. She goes to used book stores and flea markets and scans the goods – looking for the books we loved as kids. Golden Book of Poetry, etc.

    I have many of the old (and now probably out of print) books I loved when I was a kid – books like The Keeping Days, Luvvy and the Girls, The Lonesome Manor … absolutely marvelous books which, for whatever reason, didn’t become classics. But not because they lack merit.

    I flip through Lonesome Manor on occasion … and remember who I used to be.

    I so know what you mean.

  6. DeAnna says:

    Good LORD! That was like reading about myself! I have tons and tons and tons of books, many I’ve never read but I just FEEL better knowing they are there.
    When I’m depressed, the first place I visit (besides the refridgerator)is the bookstore.

  7. Patrick says:

    You’re crazy.
    I’m jealous.

  8. Ken Hall says:

    I’ve overflowed (overflown?) my second bookcase, and I think my wife will murder me in my sleep if I get more than a couple more. Eventually, though, I plan to have a full set of Brittanicas and the full 20-volume OED. And plenty of Arthur Ransome and Laura Ingalls Wilder for the kids.

  9. ricki says:

    If I ever marry, my right to continue acquiring books (and the right to full custody of my books, should the marriage ever dissolve) is going in the pre-nup.

  10. Steve says:

    Ditto, Ricki. I sold off many of my philosophy books during my soon-to-be-dissolved marriage and I’m never doing that again. Pre-nup is the only way to go.

  11. Dano says:

    It’s great to have a reference at hand for whatever your current obsession. My son has borrowed all of my Neil Young books. I have a friend who discovered “The Loved One” on TCM and I happened to have “The Journal of The Loved One” to loan him – a big vintage pictorial/text trade paperback (cover price $2.95!!) that came in a big box of cartoon books a friend of a friend dispossessed… and HIS interest (we both love ‘Dr. Strangelove’ too) made me want to get a newer book on Terry Southern…
    nowadays, because I often can’t resist carting home a box o’ the stuff, and am running out of room, I try to avoid the big used book sales (the one in Ithaca is going on right now) but still pick up the odd film or music book if it’s a) older and b) on a mental wish list or at least on-topic with my interests.
    Recent finds: “Rock on Film” (1982) and “Girls on Film” (very good post-feminist study by a British writer who’s got attitude galore.)

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