“If the trend toward bureaucratization and mechanization continues, I predict a revolution, not by librarians, but by readers—townspeople, students, and teachers—those who use the library in their need for knowledge and delight, who think of the library as a kind of temple, and who sicken of social scientists and personal psychologists of documentalists and gadgeteers, in places of power."
But what I finally sit down with almost always comes down to something else. Not that I necessarily know what that something else is—the book just calls to me. I answer in hope of a deep conversation.
I am tired of violence. I am tired of lies and hateful rhetoric. I am tired, but it’s not time to go to sleep. It is time to wake up. These three poetry collections are the antithesis of lazy summer reading. These books shun complacency. These are books to stay awake by.
Prior to having kids I judged parents who snapped at their kids. Now I empathize, and beg for the grace to be compassionate and slow to anger. My two children have taken me to the brink of a boiling point I didn’t know was there.
Is there a place for such stories--or even their subversion--when our politics are unpredictable, people live in fear of being scapegoated and harassed, and it seems the threat of a new war is around every corner?
For some reason, the books that stand out to me most carry along with them the memory not only of the plot, the characters, and the language, but the setting where I read them. Middlemarch is the name of the fictional town where the story takes place, and while I loved the setting – pre-Industrial Revolution, old English estates, country churches – it seems pertinent that I read it in a quiet place where the reaches of the sky and the ocean reflected the vastness of Eliot’s insights.
There is a joy, too, in reading as adults, in the summer, at leisure. It is a luxury we rarely allow ourselves, sometimes only on planes or on vacation. But do you remember that stealthy act of reading, under the bed-tent, late at night, in the dark? Sometimes our world goes dark, and we need reading more than ever. Sometimes reading is our deliverance.
I measured the physical reality of my summer by the weeks in a non-weight bearing cast, the weeks in a boot with limited weight bearing, and my slowly increasing ability to move. My mental reality I measured by reading, most of which I had not expected to come my way. While I might have chosen mysteries anyway, now they were distractions of another kind.
Every time I prayed, a gentle, insistent sense arose in me – Do this…You can do this…I want you to do this – the same sense that had been prodding me during the past six months as my husband and I discussed fostering a child and researched the process, and I, initially resistant to the idea, had begun praying about it.
What haunts my waking dreams is the library; a sacred space, richly textured with human spines and book spines, crinkly papers, and dusty tomes. How do I make these perennial objects of desire—those recorded and those we wish to find—new to those who do not see the library as I see it?