Posts Tagged ‘library’

A little library, growing larger every year, is an honourable part of a man’s history.  It is a man’s duty to have books.  A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life. 

~Henry Ward Beecher

“And I love the library better than any other room in the house. I love the smell and feel of it and the throng of happy ghosts who I like to imagine are with me here. It always surprises me that they don’t step visibly from the books they wrote. When I take only one book from the shelves, the whole lot of them seem to me to be tinglingly alive, not only the man who walks beside me as I carry his book to my chair. Craftsmen are deeply united, I think, and rejoice in each other’s artifacts from one generation to another.” The Scent of Water, Elizabeth Goudge

The house of my heart has:

• a library, where all my hundreds of books are on shelves so I can see them and easily access them without digging through boxes in the attic. The library has chairs that invite me to curl up and read, plenty of light (both artificial and natural), maybe even a window seat. It will probably have my laptop, a printer, etc…the technological minutia of today’s day-to-day living, a wonderful desk to store interesting pens, pencils and markers and gorgeous paper (plus stamps for things that still will be sent “regular” mail.)

• a porch. A big porch. A place with outdoor furniture where I can sit in the morning with my cup of tea, greet the day (or my neighbors or both), or listen to all the sounds that make up silence in the way that all colors make either white or black, depending if you add all colors of light (which will make white) or all colors of paint (which will make something approaching black.) A place where, if my house is near other people, I can see them, talk to them, invite them over, set food and drink out for them and get to know them.

• a clothesline. I want my clothes to smell like sunshine in the summer and my towels, sheets and pillowcases to invite noses into them. My dryer will appreciate the break. Not convinced of the fun of hanging things out in winter and breaking ice off them, though.

• large windows, suitably insulated, easy to open to welcome in the scents of summer, beautifully framed indoors by some sort of “window treatments” and on the outside, by real shutters that I can reach out and close at night, French-style. Provencal colors would be lovely for them. The sun will pour into the house on sunny days, into every room, nook and cranny.

• a large kitchen that’s the heart of the home, maybe a kitchen-dining room. Either way, I’ll be able to look outside while eating, gazing at the garden, trees, fruit trees and flowers. In the yard of my heart, there will be flowers to bring inside and food to eat. There might be chickens, both for eggs and for their ecological effect. There will also be a kitchen garden outside the patio doors, a patio with a grill, pots filled with herbs, chairs around a table, protected, when needed, by an umbrella.

• ceiling fans in all the rooms, solar panels, skylights, and a solarium as well as a green house. There’s a wood-burning stove that heats much of, or all of, the house. The gutters end in rain barrels and the garden has a drip system. In one corner, you’ll find the compost pile.

• green roofs. Or maybe not, since after having a flat roof with water problems for a time, I swore our next house would have roofs so steep the crampons would be needed to work on them. But green roofs intrigue me as do straw bale homes, adobe homes and homes built partly into a hill.

• if not a basement and attic, then plenty of storage space. A pantry and/or a cellar.

• a dog, probably a rescue pit bull, to act as official welcome-er.

Whatever it has, the house of my heart will be filled with love, friendship, a sense of peace and community, good food, two or three-hour meals with friends and family and the love of God. The house of my heart will be a home as well.

(Thank you for permission to use the lovely photo [on the right] of a Provencal home to Barbara van Zanten-Stolarski  of Europa Photogenica, unique photo tours to unusual places, at

For Christmas 2010, my husband got me a Kindle with a black leather cover and a cool little light that pulls out from a corner. (The light’s stopped working, even though I rarely use it, and I have to figure out where the battery is and where to get a new one.) He was probably more excited about it than I was. I’ve been collecting books for years, a habit aided and abetted by 16 years of homeschooling our two daughters, and I’m not a person who only reads a book once, then gets rid of it. I collect books by authors I like although, limited by money and storage space, not all the books by all the authors I like. Some of my books I’ve read at least 10 or 15 times and I plan to read them many more times.

And I’m a bibliophile, a lover of books, actual books as well as what’s in actual books. The library is my favorite place, closely followed by Half Price Books. When the first HPB in the Cleveland area opened in Shaker Heights many years ago, I was the first non-store-related, non-celebrity person in the store and I eventually knew practically all the sales people. They used to give a $5 gift card for every $30 or $35 of children’s books purchased and I sometimes shudder to thing how many of those I got. I loved my teacher’s card, giving me as a homeschooler, an additional 10% off and deeply regretted the day I honestly didn’t renew it.

But back to the Kindle….My first thought was probably “Nice, but I’m not giving up my books”, followed shortly thereafter with the thought that if I bought all the books I read, my husband would have to get a second job and I’d have to go back to work, leaving me little time to read said books acquired at such a cost. The time between those thoughts and now have been a time of figuring out the place of a Kindle in my copious reading life. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

The Kindle (or whatever reading device like it you prefer) is superb for use while traveling and I love to travel. Prior to owning one, when I went on a trip, I packed a bag or two of books or had a library card at the other end of the trip or both. If I went to the post office and expected to wait in line, (and when didn’t I expect to wait?), I took something to read. And a two-week trip to France, such as my husband and I took this fall, would otherwise have created a real problem, especially with the weight and number of suitcases limitation, as well as the difficulty of getting English books overseas in a non-English speaking country. Just the plane trip alone would call for more books than could easily be packed and then what if I didn’t want to leave them somewhere when I was finished (which I wouldn’t want to do)? Traveling occasionally on the Megabus, I’m offered six hours of reading time, although the majority of my fellow travelers use the time to sleep. I can now take thousands of books with me in my purse! How can that be bad?

But what about getting the books to keep on the Kindle? I’d saved a link shared by an online friend to a blog that every day tells me about free or almost free books from Amazon. Most of these are by indie (independent) authors so I never know what the quality will be. I can always grab them, then delete any books I start and don’t like. I’ve got many of them initially but have slowed down as time goes on. There really can’t be that many books that are 4 or 4 1/2 or 5 stars. No books about vampires for me, no erotica, no Amish romances and not most romance novels at all. I have an entire library of business books and mysteries as well as a smattering or more of a variety of other books.

The other books that are free are the classics. Sometimes the formatting of the free versions isn’t very good (and sometimes not on the ones I’ve bought, either) but they’re still free. You could get an amazing education for no more than the cost of the Kindle. You don’t even have to pay for internet access. My basic Kindle has to be somewhere like the library, Caribou Coffee, Starbucks or a similar place with free wi-fi, but all sorts of places have free wi-fi now. For a bit more money, you can have the Kindle with its own free internet access, although you’ll just be in touch with Amazon.

I also collect books by authors I like, want to keep re-reading and want to have available. Some are free, some not, some aren’t even available as e-books, yet. I’ve collected almost all the Donna Leon books, Georgette Heyers Regency romances (which even my husband enjoys and which cause us to often laugh aloud while reading) as well as her mysteries, the first ten or so Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry, lots of the E. Nesbit books, a complete Bible, all the Miss Silver mysteries by Patricia Wentworth, and so on. Periodically, a book from a series is offered free, often the first book, and every day Amazon has a Deal of the Day for $.99. Every month they have 100 books under $2.99 or something along those lines. So I’m gradually building a library that not only doesn’t take up much room but that can be transported around the world with ease. Hard to beat that.

But still, I want to someday live in a house with a library, near a Half Price Books, a library and, hopefully, a bricks and mortar bookstore, to buy books (with free shipping) from Amazon and to give books to my girls, not just let them be one of my five Kindle accounts.