21 July 2016

A Few Moments in the Library

Grace and are taking a writing class this summer, Writing from Your Roots, taught by Chris Yokel. As appropriate, I will probably also share some of what I am writing here.  Below are my observations from spending some time sitting in my library.

Perhaps 6 months ago, Grace and I consolidated our family's books into one room, now appropriately called "the library." At present, we have about 4500 volumes in that room. But I rarely just sit down there. Today, I headed to the library and sat for a while to observe.

When I first sat down, I found myself writing about the physical space. I was struck by the comfort of the chair, remembering the shape of my body. The air was a cool tranquility. We need better lighting. The overhead lights are underpowered, almost useless. Other varied lamps surround the room, but they cast uneven shadows and harsh bright spots. The books do not come to the edge of the shelves; some of them cower closer to the back, making them harder to see. Calvin's commentaries almost appear a wave upon the top shelf. How did they end up like that? The predominant sound was that of the dehumidifier, a noisy necessary evil. The shelves offer up a rare creak but are mostly silent. The only other appreciable noise comes from my son moving around upstairs. On the whole, the library is a quiet space in a house that is otherwise a cacophony.

The longer I sat, the more I began to think about the residents of the library, the books occupying the shelves. They express a unity in diversity. Fiction and nonfiction, old and new, hardcover and paperback, poetry, music, and cookbooks. Despite the varied topics, they all have a place. My poetry section is too small. I'm glad for Auden, Frost, Dickinson, and Oliver, but who's missing? Many, no doubt. Many of my books remain unread. Some of them I will likely never read. So why have a library? Why do I keep purchasing books? Is it a sickness? I do not know. What I do know is that this place brings me comfort.

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