Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." Stephen King

When I walked out of the library today, I suddenly felt like I used to as a kid:  amazed that for no money, they let me take out a pile of books.  It's like the thrill of stealing, without the bad juju of actual crime.

While in the library, I relished the feeling of walking through the stacks. Book spines promised whole worlds. I breathed in that nostalgic musty scent, as pleasing to me as ocean air.  For the first time I consciously registered that the mustiness intensifies as you work your way up--probably because the older books are stored on the higher floors.

It had been a while since I'd entered the library armed with a list of books I wanted to check out.  But summer's almost here and in addition to all the travel and wedding adventures, I want to read.  And read.  And read!  My list includes a swath of books chosen for various reasons:

1.  The Enormous Room by e.e. cummings.  I've always appreciated his poetry and have meant for years to get around to reading his only novel.  I now have the library's copy in my hot little hand.  If you want to read the book online for free, click here.

The mere brute pleasure of reading is the sort of pleasure 
a cow must have in grazing. - Gilbert K. Chesterson

2.  The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay. I read the opening sentence in "100 Best First Lines of Novels" and not only was I captivated by the novel's start, I'd never even heard of the title or the author.  When I found the book in the stacks today, it was surrounded by at least 30 other books written by Macaulay.  Of course I had to google her immediately, and I discovered that she was a prolific writer in the early 20th century and that, among other interesting facts, Rupert Brook plagiarized her, and she had an affair with a priest.

Is God oval-shaped?

3.  I also checked out God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo which, when you open the top red cover, you discover has a hole in it that encircles the title beneath.  Cool marketing.  I don't remember why I had DeBartolo's book on my list, but someone must have recommended it to me.  That's a killer title so I want to give it a try.

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

4.  Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch.    A friend told me my writing reminds her of Crouch's, so I'm going to read her and decide whether or not that's a compliment.

Non-library books on my summer reading list include:

5.  Wicked Hill by my friend and colleague Ed Sams.  I'm reading it in manuscript form so I can write a glowing blurb, which it no doubt will deserve!

Subtitles are de rigueur these days.  This one promises a salient promise.

6.  Some books I'm considering using in my teaching next year:

 I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. - Jorge Luis Borges

Smith and Mapplethorpe when they were just kids.

7.   Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls.  My sister gave me this book, and Dave wolfed it down right away, followed by Walls' best-seller The Glass Castle.  While The Glass Castle is a memoir, Horses is billed as a "real-life novel."  I like books that tweak categories.

8.  Just Kids by Patti Smith, another book that Dave has scooped me on.  He was riveted as he read, making me want to pluck it from his hands.  I've long been a fan of stories that celebrate love relationships between creative people (I aspired to create such a vibe in For the May Queen).  I used to teach a Queer Arts course at UCSC and became fascinated by the way Mapplethorpe challenged the line between art and pornography.

What's on your summer reading list?

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem 
about everything.  - Steven Wright

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