I miss my books. I miss my messy shelves. I miss reading them, writing about them, agonizing over how to feel. Wrote this to console myself because there’s a task going around on Facebook and I figured, whatever. Let’s write about some books–
10 books, many other lives–selected for a variety of reasons. Some books I grew up with, some I associate with people I love, some were instructive, others reflective–oh man, we should do this every month–the list goes on.
1. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (Because he introduced me to Loren Eiseley, said that I must write in my own voice using my own imagination! Cried so hard when he passed away–his voice lives through Sam Weller though so I’m hopeful.)
2. Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke, The Prophet – Khalil Gibran (Cheating, I know–but my two spiritual guides deserve equal mention. Rilke puts a mirror in front of me and Gibran has helped me understand duty–he’s also crafted my wedding vows.)
3. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak, 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff (Cheating again but I love a good, approachable set of stories based on forgotten times–so moved by these two. Also, HISTORY SHOULD INFORM OUR LIVES!)
4. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The first and last book Grandpa Louis mailed me–it’s how I knew that I was really his grandchild and it’s what keeps me curious about him. cc: Dorothy, Guido, Liesbeth.)
5. Hope for the Flowers – Trina Paulus (Wrote a book report on this in grade school–I still remember the person I was reading this. Do you remember her too, Tita Devi?)
6. Slackjaw – Jim Knipfel (He wrote about blindness when I was most afraid that my own sight would go but he did so with humor and honesty–it was a dark book for a dark time but wow, grateful.)
7. The Happy Prince and Other Stories – Oscar Wilde (My sister, Pan Dora, gave this to me–treasure it because it felt like an heirloom being passed on. Wilde’s stories in this one are beautiful.)
8. The Last Full Moon – Gilda Cordero Fernando (She’s always been my guiding star–that she writes beautifully about her life reminds me that all I really, really want is an interesting life.)
9. A Sense of Place – Michael Shapiro (He interviews travel writers–among them Pico Iyer, Jan Morris, Paul Theroux, Redmond O’Hanlon–they talk life, the road, and their craft! OMG!)
10. Po-on – F. Sionil Jose (He drove me around Rosales once and I turned my back against him and wept thinking of Istak and his family–the road they had to traverse to escape, to rebuild their lives–it reminds me constantly of the struggle of Filipinos to belong, even in their own land.)
The list, the list–it goes on! There’s Barzun, Shakespeare, Dalrymple, Kurlansky–there are poets, essayists, lovers, teachers. Oh man. So many books, so little time.
Every time I write about books, I remember two things: 1) The power of the word to reflect who I am at different points in my life and 2) how much more living is ahead of me! It’s a mix of nostalgia and excitement!
Now I just want to hide in a cave somewhere and read.