We had eleven bookshelves in our last home.  Several were floor-to-ceiling and almost all were full.  And there were boxes in the garage, and stacks and stacks all over the house.  And we were always buying more.

The loss of my books was a tragedy of a magnitude I doubt a non-bibiliophile can appreciate.  Call me unnatural but I am every bit as upset about my books as I am about the pictures of my kids.  I’d known many of them for far longer.

The VERY FIRST item of furniture we purchased ourselves for our new home was a bookcase. (The second was something to sit our new gigantic television on, but that has nothing to do with me.)  We still have room on it for pictures and whatnots but I can assure you that will not last.  We’ve never had any use for bookends because our shelves were always crammed so full, in some cases two layers deep.

Since the fire I have felt wary of collecting possessions, of growing attached to anything.  I hesitate before saving the pictures Lorelei brings home from school.  I toss birthday cards in the garbage.  My closet holds just enough clothes to get by.  I guess it’s a measure of how central books are to my identity that this fear no longer extends to them.

I’ve joined three book clubs.  I’ve raided McKay’s and my church’s book swap.  I’ve claimed the discarded books of friends.  (“This feeds my soul,” said John, while going through several boxes of books given to us by my friend and her husband.)

So, what have I been reading?  I’ve just recently completed a couple of bestsellers:  The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins and Stephen King’s 11-22-63.  I couldn’t put the first one down–I read it in a day.  Spoiler alert:  The romance angle didn’t cut it for me.  That love triangle/constant misunderstanding thing is SO Harlequin.  As for King’s book, I adored his descriptions of the 50s which made me wish I could travel back through time myself, and also that he should just settle down there and live a happy life with his girlfriend and forget all the Kennedy stuff.  Because–SPOILER–wasn’t the ending obvious from the beginning to anyone who has ever read a time travel book?  It was to me, and I felt cheated having to hold that super-heavy hardback book for hours to find out that trying to change the past is a BAD IDEA.

I read those two for my book club.  On my own, I’ve discovered two new authors who write the kind of legal/crime thrillers I enjoy.  Having already consumed everything by Patricia Cornwell, Jonathan Kellerman, and Lisa Scottoline, I was excited to find more.  I cannot rave enough about Greg Iles, an astonishingly versatile writer who refuses to be boxed in by genre.  I’ve enjoyed all his books, especially the ones featuring his recurring character, Penn Cage.  I never gave a second thought to Natchez, Mississippi before reading his books, but now I want to go there.  He brings the city alive, and he writes about the South brilliantly and authentically.  Plus his stories are good.

Phillip Margolin is another recent discovery.  His books are not on the same level but they are page-turners with likable characters and evil villains and courtroom twists.  He sets his books in Oregon but he does not succeed in making his stories organic to their setting.  I also was able to figure out big parts of the plots ahead of time.  But that’s okay–it takes some of the stress out of reading them.  And they are intriguing enough to have kept me up late two nights this week finishing them.

I have Jeffrey Deaver and Michael Connelly books waiting in the “to be read” stack that never grows any shorter . . .

[UPDATE:  The nearly empty book shelf is now stuffed completely full and there are stacks of books next to it.  Both shelves of that table above have books stacked several feet high.]


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