Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lending out my lovelies

Appearances aside, it does not please me when I tilt toward the negative. So today--sunny, warming up, tiny buds visible on the tips of tree branches, and to top off the lovely morning my weekly weigh-in showed that I've lost two more pounds which means I've now lost 12 with only (!) 35 to go--let me trot back to the bright side. Because for all the books that disappoint me or push my buttons, there are still so many that fill me with joy and wonder.

My books. Ah, my lovelies.

I have too many, of course. I cull the shelves too rarely and when I do I rarely come up with any I can bear to part with. Truth: I derive a strange, silly pleasure from just staring at them. Sometimes I stand in front of one or another bookcase and run my eyes along the spines. Sometimes I fantasize about taking a visitor on a tour of my books, pointing out particular titles for her to ooh and aah over. This morning while I did yoga, during which there are several sitting and standing poses that have me facing some bookcases, I felt such a calm descend and I know it wasn't just the endorphins being released by the exercises and stretches. It was my books, the sight of which flooded me, I think, with a sense of well-being, of openness to the world and the future and all the gifts that await me in the reading yet to come.

Another little task this morning brought all this home. A close friend was telling me yesterday that she hasn't had a good novel to read in some time. So I pulled some to lend her. I'm frequently too stingy, have too hard a time letting my dearies out of my sight, but I'm trying to be more generous, and so I came up with this list, which I'm emailing her so she can choose which she wants for a start. My friend is a reader so this list is only a slim slice of what's on my shelves, a lot of which I know she's already read. Still, it holds some partial clues to my idea of good literature. Here's the list. Perhaps I'll have occasion at some point to rhapsodize--I mean blog--about each of them, but for now I'll just be waiting for my friend to read them, and to hear which ones she likes or doesn't, and why.

Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan
Sor Juana's Second Dream by Alicia Gaspar de Alba
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Hester Among the Ruins by Binnie Kirshenbaum
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
Love by Toni Morrison (one that's been largely and unfairly overlooked)
Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain
The Age of Dreaming by Nina Revoyr
Hottentot Venus by Barbara Chase-Riboud
The History of the Siege of Lisbon by Jose Saramago
The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal