Post 39/2021 Thursday 23 September . . . The sky wept a little yesterday. I made coffee. Going outside called for wearing a jacket. It was the last day of summer, the first day of fall. Fall in the northern hemisphere started with the autumnal equinox on Wednesday, September 22 at 3:21 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) / 7:21 pm Universal Time Coordinated (UTC).
Joe Springer would come at 9:30 am to select from among the books we were giving away, soothing ourselves by saying, “Goodbye / au revoir. Bon voyage.”
Happily, Joe, curator of the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College, took many of the Anabaptist and Mennonite books, some destined for other collections. Later that day, we took five heavy boxes to Fables Books in Goshen.
A smaller personal collection of books feels liberating, though I have yet to find the words to express the pleasure tinged with sadness that comes with the parting. Sadness stands sentry within, even as I am buoyed with a sense of satisfaction, relief, completion, mission accomplished, euphoria even. For certain, it’s a happy dispersion of books, with a goodly number of literary friends still surrounding us.
We have a few more books to deal with–how do you say goodbye to a friend? Still, the major part of the task is done, finished, out-the-door, our “treasures” on their way to new readers, new collectors, new friends. New life for old books; old books for new life.
Joe Springer said we could have had a drop-in book giveaway party. True, but I’m happy with the quick, few-second-thoughts, diminution of our collection. Long live good books and their readers!
Fall at Greencroft
What I’m reading
The Paris Library, a novel by Janet Skeslien Charles (Atria Books, 2021). The book opens in Paris, February 1939. Odile Souchet is getting ready for a job interview at the American Library in Paris. The Dewey Decimal System numbers she had memorized in grad school “represented freedom, the future.”
Odile gets the job. She befriends Margaret, spouse of an attaché with the British embassy. Through her perceptive encouragement, Odile helps Margaret for the first time feel at home in Paris. Before, when Margaret and her husband left London, “she’d fallen off the face of their earth.”
Hitler will soon invade France. Losses will mount left and right. What will remain at the end of the war?
Fast forward to Montana 1983. Lily, a teenager, gets to know her elderly neighbor from Paris, Odile Gustafson. Flyleaf: “A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are–family, friends, and favorite authors–The Paris Library illuminates a little-known corner of history where a passion for literature inspired extraordinary acts of courage and love.”
I’ve only covered 82 pages of this 352-page book and I’m smitten. Just as I was eventually taken in by The Children’s Train, by Viola Ardone (set in Naples after World War II, last week’s blog). What is said of The Paris Library can be said of many of the books we read, “The Paris Library is an unforgettable story of friendship, family, romance, and the power of literature to bring us together.”
Keep bringing us together, dear books. Pray that soon and very soon we will get closer together.
Cicero said, “A home without books is like a body without soul.” Horace Mann: “A home without books is like a room without windows.” Between the covers of a book, one can get lost in the most wonderful, window-opening resolution of sorrow, joy, passion, love, mystery, intrigue, mistakes, successes.
All that in a book? Verily, one finds all that in a book. Thank you, writers, illustrators, translators, publishers, marketers, retailers, teachers, storytellers, public libraries, teachers, curators–books-passionate people all!