Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Bibliophagist

"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier."

Kathleen Norris, Hands Full of Living, 1931.
Kathleen Norris, (1880-1966) the author of sixty-five novels and two hundred short stories, knew what she was talking about -- she and her family were confirmed bibliophagists. In the introduction to These I Like Best, Norris describes her bibliophagic family:
We who grew up in a small house in the heart of a redwood forest must have swept, I believe, through three hundred books a year. We ranged furiously from Macaulay's England to Dotty Dimple's Cousin Prudy. We read Newman's Apologia and Mrs. Craven's Recit d'une Soeur. We raked books off the shelves by the dozen and hauled them along on picnics, to haylofts, up oak trees, to bath and to bed. The one terrifying possibility was to find oneself without a book. My father put Othello or The Tempest into his pocket when he took us off for a Sunday walk; and although my mother religiously burned Nick Carters wherever she found them, she was invariably too late. Dinner table talk was of books, and one sister . . . saved herself the trouble of making a poetry collection, as the rest of us did in blank books, by simply memorizing everything she liked, once and for all.
I like their omnivorous and catholic taste. Norris's list of books reminds me of the contents of my own library which range from the works of Dante to those of P.G. Wodehouse; from the poetry of John Donne to the adventures of John Carter of Mars.

I will never be embarassed to admit that I sometimes consume the literary equivalent of fun food. But not, I hope, stuff that is bad or really lame.* If you find a Star Trek novel in my library, you can be sure it's a really good Star Trek novel, like Barbara Hambly's Ishmael (which is also a spin-off of Here Come the Brides).

*For example, I didn't finish reading Hiero's Journey. In fact, I chucked it in the trash. And it wasn't just because of the giant mutant telepathic beavers. It was baaaaaad! (But how did it ever find its way into our house?)

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