Monday, May 19, 2008

Catch-up Reading

As I think I've said before somewhere on this blog (probably many times), I'm always doing catch-up reading. For some reason, I can't seem to keep up on anything like a timely basis with all the newspapers and magazines that come through here. So at least one day a week – frequently on Monday – I try to sit down and leaf through the back-up.

And this morning one article from last Thursday's (May 15) New York Times jumped out at me right away. In "A 30,000-Volume Window on the World," Alberto Manguel writes about his love of books and about the library he's spent his life accumulating. The collection now lives in a converted barn on his property in France – "an old stone presbytery" – which he chose primarily because it would be the perfect place for his books ("I knew that once the books found their place, I would find mine").

Manguel has written at length about libraries (his own included) in his recent book, The Library at Night, published last month by Yale University Press – a book I'm certain to read as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. As a book addict, I know Manguel is a kindred spirit. How could I not love a guy who buys a house with a barn big enough to accommodate his 30,000 books (that's thirty thousand books), and then admits even that's not enough space: "Barely seven years after setting it up, it has already spread into the main body of the house, which I had hoped to keep free of bookshelves."

Like Manguel, I really can't remember a time when I didn't have a library of my own – from that very first collection of board books and Little Goldens, I've always had a book collection. And, as he says, "In every place I settled, a library began to grow almost on its own." Years ago, my husband and I used to enjoy the wonderful privilege of spending the summers in England; and every year, by summer's finish, we'd end up with stacks of books decorating every surface in our room in the B&B, and taking up precious space in our suitcases on the journey home.

One thing in the article I can't really identify with, however. Manguel writes:

"These days, after my 60th birthday, I tend to seek the comfort of the books I’ve already read rather than set out to discover new ones. In my library, I revisit old acquaintances who will not distract me with superficial surprises."

I find that, for myself, just the opposite is true. The older I get, the more eager I am to sample new books and authors that I've never read before. I'm encouraged that at my advanced age, I seem to be ready for new discoveries and experiences, and new surprises. Well, the literary kind, anyway.


  1. Ahem...your age is not advanced. Your dedication to reading is, however, as are your blogging skills! Your Random Photo Mondays are outstanding, maybe because so many of them are sentimental to me as well, but they are just so photo journalistic and arty! Your blog is the first thing I read in the morning and it is always interesting! Love it! Love you!

  2. One of the things I've realized since I started book blogging was how many new books I actually get through. I have an impression of myself that says I re-read books all the time ... but it really is not the case. (I only know this now because I keep a running list on my blog of everything I read). I do re-read books, generally with great pleasure, but the vast bulk of my reading is new material. Surprising!

  3. A whole barn for books? This is just awesome.

  4. b-b--
    Now, Cuzzie - We both know I'm an "old fogarty," as our dear grandmother used to say! I love you, too - but I hope you already knew that.

    Blogging has actually helped me start reading new stuff again. I had almost stopped reading entirely until I discovered the wonderful world of book-blogging!

    I know. I'm so filled with envy!


Welcome and thanks for leaving me a comment. I love to hear from visitors.

Also, please note that while I appreciate the thought, I don't play the blog awards game. I think you all deserve awards! But you might think about becoming a follower of my blog -- that would really be the best award.