It’s one of those times when I’m having trouble keeping my reading “house" in order.
You probably know what I mean: I’ve got too many books on the go at once - the one I’m reading as research for a writing project, the one I’m reading as inspiration for the Writing Life in General, the novel I’m reading for “entertainment.” I’ve known for a long time that it doesn’t suit my reading personality to be in the middle of too many books. I like things nice and neat and orderly in all my houses.
Plus, all this dithering around with books has gotten me behind on my 100 Book reading challenge for the year too, which is nagging at me.
So yesterday I made one an those executive decision: set aside the novel that’s not really engaging me anyway and finish the other two books, one of which is The 10 Letters Project, by Jen Lee and Tim Manley.
I must tell you that The 10 Letters Project is filling me up with so much goodness - so much inspiration; so much thoughtfulness between these two correspondents who write to and of each other which such care and kindness; so much YES, ME TOO in the stories they share about their lives and work. This book makes it hard to read other books. I want to crawl in here and live with Jen Lee and Tim Manley for a while. I want to insert my story in the margins. In fact, I’m already planning to go right back to the beginning as soon as I finish reading it, pen in hand, to underline, notate, and interject my own two cents into the correspondence.
Through all of this, though, I was reminded of how much I just love BOOKS. Saturday my husband and I sat out on our deck for most of the afternoon. Yes, I sat there too. I spent nearly three hours sitting in one place with a pile of books on the table next to me. I let myself just be there, enjoying the picture perfect day, the quiet in the neighborhood (for a change, no construction, lawn mowers, or mulch blowing!) Even the dogs were quiet and undemanding - we took them to the park in the morning and wore them out on purpose, so they napped inside under the ceiling fan all afternoon.
But, back to books. And I mean real, physical books, not the digital facsimiles that will never replace them in my lexicon.
All afternoon, I could feel my husband becoming more and more frustrated by a failure in his technology. One of his favorite “apps” had been updated, and now no longer worked properly on his old iPad, or even his new iPad. (He has an upstairs and downstairs iPad...yes, I know.) He kept muttering and sputtering about all the things that were now “screwed up.” He was emailing customer support, internet chatting with customer support, going back and forth between the two devices to see just how many common malfunctions there were.
Meanwhile, I sat quietly with my book. I jotted notes in my writing journal, copied down some favorite quotes in my Day Book. Sometimes I just looked at the blue sky and listened to the birds.
Books are so easy. They feel good in your hands, they are lovely objects with real weight - not ephemeral and fickle like technology. Books don’t need to be updated, they are never too ancient to handle new software, they don’t have bugs or need fixes.
They are quiet, good, and faithful companions.
My house will never be without them.