Books I Have to Buy not Borrow

Although the source of most of my books is the local library, I sometimes get impatient waiting for a bestseller.  Who wants to read one a year after the excitement fades?  And Audible has lately caught my attention and dollars, giving me companionship when I walk.  My bookshelf is small these days, and I tend to be cautious in purchasing new books to crowd those I’ve chosen to keep forever. Nevertheless, circumstances, the news, and my own procrastination have motivated me to buy a few books I might otherwise have not.

9780143034759_p0_v6_s192x300 Hamilton by Ron Chernow

After borrowing this tome of over seven hundred pages from the library – twice – and returning the book not finished, I discovered the paperback version has been published.  Someday I will take a long flight again, and then it will be with me.

9781451648768_p0_v2_s192x300 Bob Dylan – The Lyrics

After Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I wondered if I had missed something. His familiar lyrics from “Blowin’in the Wind,” written in 1962 have a message still applicable today, but what of his others?  Downloading the sample book to my iPhone gave me a few, appropriately stopping at “Mixed Up Confusion” – my sentiments lately after the recent Presidential election.  I decided more of Dylan’s poetry might be the salve I need now.

9781250061638_p0_v5_s192x300 This Was a Man

Jeffrey Archer’s last book in The Clifton Chronicles could not wait. Will my namesake be back? I want to know what happens – now.

 

 

My Life’s Sentences

Buying a used book might offer unexpected bonuses – highlighted phrases, dog-eared pages, notes in the margin, and underlined sentences. Jhumpa Lahiri, author of some of my favorite books – Unaccustomed Earth, The Namesake, and Interpreter of Maladies – in her article for the New York Times, My Life’s Sentences – wrote about words that she needed to underline to isolate and remember. Oh, how I would love to have one of her used books.

Having just finished Katie Ward’s Girl Reading, Ward’s concept of the impact of words in a real book was still with me when Lahiri wrote…

“…it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.”

Katie Ward time travels through seven eras with books as the catalyst, but Lahiri confirms that readers can do this any time they open a book. Some phrases in books are so resilient, we never forget them. Like Lahiri, I underline sentences I want to remember, usually noting them in a journal, not trusting my memory. Words like…”A screaming comes across the sky.” (from Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow)

For Lahiri, it’s Joyce’s ” The cold air stung us and we played til our bodies glowed.”

Do you save favorite words from your reading?

Lahira uses the rest of her article to explain her own writing process – not as a primer for prospective writers – but as a testament to her own struggle with words – which she has clearly conquered.