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A Bag Full of Books

I spent a chunk of Sunday reading for Relaxation Day.  I have several books going at once: One that lives in my purse, one that I started before two library books became available from my holds list, and the two library books from the waiting list.  Oh, and a cookbook.  I grabbed a vegetarian noodle cookbook from the new arrivals shelf when grabbing the books from the waitlist.

Josh teases me because I always visibly carry at least one book when we leave the house.  He asks me if it’s in case I get bored, and while the answer is sort of yes, it’s also a security blanket.  I like having a book with me.  It makes me feel comfortable.

When I got my phone, I downloaded a bunch of e-books so I could always have books on my phone.  But I also like to carry at least one paper book with me in case the phone stops working.

Imagine if I was out and the battery died or the phone went missing.  I would no longer have access to a book.  Carrying a paper book means I’m always prepared.

It’s good to be prepared.


I loved Will Schwalbe’s essay in the Wall Street Journal about our need to read.  It begins:

We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: “What are you reading?” It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives.

The essay is about how the rhythm of the daily world divides us and drains us, but books have the ability to recharge us.  He writes,

Reading is the best way I know to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. Perhaps that is why reading is one of the few things you do alone that can make you feel less alone. It is a solitary activity that connects you to others.

I love reading alone, though I clearly also read with the twins because I love to read things together and discuss them in real time.

Like the author, I read books to help me understand the world around me.  Dirk Gently wiggled its way back into my purse after the election because I felt like the Electric Monk held the key to understanding how people could elect Trump.  I know — silly — but every time I started panicking about the people around me, I grabbed out the book and re-read a few pages and said, “Oh, yes, people really can believe anything regardless of fact.”

I am currently re-reading Dirk Gently by Douglas Adams.  I’m reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee.  I’m in the middle of Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman.  I saved the last book in that trilogy for when I needed it, and that time popped up a day or two before those other two books became available at the library.  Do you also save books?  If I see that a book is going to be very special to me, I save it until I am either in the right frame of mind or need a pick-me-up.  This moment was of the pick-me-up variety.

So as Schwalbe says to ask: What are you reading?


1 A.M.S. { 11.30.16 at 8:33 am }

I’m sure it comes as a huge surprise to you that my criteria for a purse is that it will hold at least a mass market sized book. ?

I don’t get to read for me as much as I’d like these days, but I did get to read Serafina and the Black Cloak over the holiday because I was feeling homesick and heartsick for the mountains. I have been starting, stopping, and restarting Welcome to Night Vale for months. It isn’t that I’m not getting into it. It’s a very surreal and somewhat complex novel and I just don’t seem to have that level of brain power lately. I think I need to stick to fluff for awhile. ? Moonpie and I are working our way through the Little House series and just started By the Shores of Silver Lake. Between those and her collection of “I am…” biographies we have been having some fascinating discussions about how we treat ourselves and others.

2 loribeth { 11.30.16 at 9:53 am }

I am sort of between books right now… after the election, most of my reading has been news, commentary & blog posts online. I do have a few books half-started that I need to get back to: “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” by Susan Elia Maclean (WWII themed mystery), Mike Myers’ “Canada,” and “Jeremy Poldark” by Winston Graham (which the just-concluded second season of “Poldark” on PBS was based on. And of course a huge and ever-growing pile of books “to be read.” 😉

3 loribeth { 11.30.16 at 9:55 am }

P.S. Mel, I cracked up when I read about your “security blanket.” I almost always take a magazine or book or my e-reader to bed with me, even if I go straight to bed and leave it on my night table. Dh noticed I was doing it, and I told him it was my “security book.” 😉

4 Brittany { 11.30.16 at 12:50 pm }

I am going to reread “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde. It’s a sci-fi/ mystery set in a parallel universe. Literary detective Thursday Next is an interesting heroine and I need to read something fun right now.

5 Turia { 11.30.16 at 1:15 pm }

This is so timely. I have just realized that I have not read a book in November. Not one. Says a lot about my state of mind. Going to try to do better in December because reading is a security blanket for me too.

6 Raven { 11.30.16 at 2:03 pm }

I have two book shelves – one filled with books I’ve read, and the second filled with books to be read. There are three shelves on my “to be read” bookshelf , and the first shelf is books to be read ASAP, the second is books to be read when the mood strikes, and the third shelf is books to read when I have nothing else to read (ones that I’m not sure if I will like)…I totally agree that sometimes you need the right moment to enjoy the right book.

I typically have two or three on the go – right now I have “The House Without Windows”, “The Coral Thief” and I’m re-reading Harry Potter so I’m halfway through the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I love the idea of the security blanket – LOL. I don’t typically cart books around but I do keep them on my phone. When I do have a book, though, I clutch it to my chest like a shield. I dunno..there is just something magical and safe about books!

7 Nonsequiturchica { 11.30.16 at 3:49 pm }

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. It’s taking me a while to read it but mainly because I only read it when I am pumping at home.

8 torthúil { 11.30.16 at 5:50 pm }

I haven’t read anything in several weeks. The last book was “Perspectives on Our Age: Jacques Ellul Speaks on his Life and Work”. I wanted to read “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes” but it isn’t available in the Kobo store. I’ve lost interest in fiction. I’m not sure what it will take to get me reading fiction again (or going to concerts or performances or anything cultural….) I feel like there are things I need to understand and I don’t have any interest in escapism and fantasy at the moment. At least, I don’t want to escape FROM reality. I wouldn’t mind escaping out of convention and INTO a new viewpoint on reality. I will probably borrow and read some of my older brother’s books over the holidays. He always finds interesting books.

9 sharah { 11.30.16 at 9:20 pm }

I’m through 48 books of my challenge goal of 52 this year. Right now I’m reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty (Ruby Payne), Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise (Sally Cline), The Bridge Ladies (Betsy Lerner), Too Like the Lightning (Ada Palmer [who also authors the blog Ex Urbe]), Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Cal Newport), Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (Margot Lee Shetterly), and The New Mind of the South (Tracy Thompson). I should probably just pick one or two and finish them, rather than keep dragging them all out.

PS – I’m always looking for friends on goodreads! Find me through my email – sharahblog@gmail.

10 Beth { 12.01.16 at 8:29 am }

I just read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I didn’t think I wanted to read it but a friend gave me her copy so I gave it a try. It’s timely, with race relations currently and our President Elect. I’m also reading Defending Jacob, which I like but am plodding through for some reason. It’s my security blanket book, too, on my phone whenever I need it.

11 Cyn K { 12.01.16 at 2:57 pm }

I’m listening to the second book of The Raven Cycle “The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stievater. I just finished a hardback and haven’t made it to the library to pick up my holds. I’m feeling a bit twitchy. I do like having a paperback that fits in my purse, and I’m out of those at the moment, too.

12 Lori Lavender Luz { 12.01.16 at 4:18 pm }

I’m on Ch 5 of The Royal We.

13 Click { 12.08.16 at 2:47 pm }

Like you, I never leave the house without a book. Although I only allow myself one book at a time, I regularly pull up an ebook or the Project Gutenberg version if there is one as a back up.

I’m quite thankful for the invention of eReaders. I’m going away for Christmas and normally this is a dilemma because how many books do I need to take? It’s always less than I actually pack and space is going to be limited. With my Kindle I can take thousands with me. 😉

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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