Saturday, January 9, 2010

leafing through

i just this morning finished a book i loved loved loved. i can't stop thinking about it and telling people how great it is. i'll no doubt blog about it soon enough. (the book is a grace disguised by jerry sittser. but that's not really what this post is about.)

as i read the book, i found myself noting pages that contained bits i loved. i couldn't be bothered to slow down enough to copy down the passages, which is problematic, since the book is borrowed and i'll return it to its owner soon. oh, that i had slowed down in reading so many books whose delightful passages i've needed to return! i found myself wanting to absorb this book somehow; i don't want to copy down these bits that touch me so deeply, such that i have to return to some journal to read them again, but i want them to be in me. if only i had a better memory like some people i know who simply contain so many wonderful lines from wonderful books, i found myself thinking.

and then i started thinking of all those books i have loved and lost for not having absorbed them somehow, for not having slowed down to write down--me? not slow down to write?--the things i loved of them. and i realized i love a lot of books.

in fact, i think i can probably count on one hand the books i have read that i haven't loved.

which is not because all the books i read are one kind of book that is the kind i happen to particularly love. i love this book that i finished this morning because its exploration of "how the soul grows through loss," as the subtitle reads, is so familiar and so encouraging. i love a murder mystery or a legal thriller because of a compelling story, like a movie (and if you know me, you know i don't like movies) in my head for my time on the beach or the plane. i love a memoir of a life lived elsewhere in else-times for the stretch it gives my mind to experience someone else's experience from here in my little, little world. i love a something-or-other, whatever it is about, made of beautiful words and sentences and paragraphs simply for the beauty of it, like a painting (and if you know me, you know i'm really not into art). i love a children's book for the delight of the author in it, for the delight of a child in it. i love a play--to read that is (though if you know me, you know that one semester upon a time i lived a dream life in london filled with live theater, too)--for the imagination it takes to make it happen, as it were, in its sparsity on the page. i love a short story for that sparsity, too, for the amazing gift of the author contained in an itty bitty little story.

as i said, i've barely ever met a book i didn't love.


i don't write in books. ever. i don't turn down corners or break bindings. i love a new book, all crisp and fresh and not yet crinkled or spilled on or finger-smudged. i want it to stay that way to share with others, too, unspoiled by my reading. i have no place leaving my mark on someone else's thoughts, i don't think. yes, i want a book to be just fresh from the author, unspoiled by others' thoughts or thumbings, and i want to give the gift of such books to others, too, even if i have already read them myself. i want a book to seem just fresh from the author when i pass it on to you, without my thoughts or thumbings intruding on your conversation with the author.

(no, i don't think i'll ever own a kindle or a nook. i don't think so. i like my books with pages, thankyouverymuch.)


it takes some chutzpah to write a book. (and no, i can't define that for you. neither can i define schmatta or meshugina or farblondzet or fachadick, but i'll continue to use them...and yes, i did have to look up the spelling of those last few. and no, they're not pronounced like they look, at least not in my family).


chutzpah, as i was saying. people have told me often enough these past few years that i should write a book, and heaven knows i've wanted to since i was a kid. it has even been prophesied of me that i will "birth" a book (i kid you not, and i care not, either, what you think of prophecy: i'm known to be a doubter in general, but not when it comes to this person, who hears from God, i have no doubt, and whom i trust implicitly). and i've got the itch. but it takes chutzpah to even say that here, for just the handful of you who read this thing--ha!--and who are all probably among those who have told me i should write a book anyhow. even to say to you i'd like to do this takes more chutzpah than i have suspected i could muster.

but there. i've said it. i've got words in me, and i like them. i like to write them down, and i like to share them. i want other people's books' words in me, no doubt, but i'm also learning something about the words of my own that i have in me.

thumb and think away.


Rebecca said...

Oh-ho! A plot, a plot! Which is not to say you'd write fiction (I think we've talked about this), but the plot of your taking pen in hand to write.

Good thoughts.

And on other thoughts in this post: I just received today my box from Amazon (received a gift card from a student) containing my two brand-new, spines-intact, un-thumbed, non-underlined books: A.S. Byatt's latest offering _The Children's Book_ and _Diary of a Writer_ by a V. Woolf. I am itching to read them but am instead reading my students' exam essay which are not, I am sure, Nearly As Good. *sigh*

Patricia Berman said...

Write it!

Meredith said...

Write it indeed!

And how could we be so alike and yet so different? The first thing I do with a delicious, crisp new book is crack the binding, inscribe my name, and choose my pen with which to annotate it (and yes, pen, not pencil. I want my thoughts, my conversation with the book, to last as long as the book).

Write it!