In the past two weeks, I’ve read two contemporary poetry collections that I didn’t, er…love…or perhaps what I mean is I did not respond to them the way I enjoy responding to poems (and no, I will not be naming titles, though I will be giving these books away). While that is a let-down of sorts, I also started reading naturalist Marcia Bonta‘s Appalachian Autumn–which I do love. The book takes an environmental-diary approach that I have enjoyed in other naturalist writers’ work and which, no doubt, I relate to partly because I am also a near-daily diarist of my own backyard; Bonta has much to teach me, because she has a naturalist’s education and long experience. This is one of four Appalachian Seasons books she’s authored, and maybe I should have started with Spring, since that equinox has just passed. I found myself interested in the story this book tells of her family’s legal struggles with local lumbermen and absentee landlords, however. It’s an experience with which, sadly, my beloveds and I are familiar.
And I also began reading a book of poetry I have found exceptionally compelling–Rebecca Elson’s A Responsibility to Awe. Perhaps more on that in a future post. So books continue to enrich my life. I hope that is always the case, but I’ve seen how changes in human neuroplasticity can affect even the most bookish among us. More reason never to take the joys of reading for granted–and to keep my library card current.
In future, I plan to use the library card more than the credit card when it comes to books; but I know I’m weak. Besides, many of the small or indie press poetry books I relish are not easy to find in public library collections. One of my priorities this year is to winnow the home bookshelf stacks, to keep only what I really cannot bear to part with or am sure I will read or refer to again. But how can I be sure? The book lover’s dilemma, isn’t it? Nonetheless, there are definitely texts I can part with if I just take the necessary time to go through the collection. I can donate them to a public library, and even though many of them won’t get curated onto those shelves, at least I will be supporting an institution I value. I have been referring to this process of lightening my bookshelf loads as “culling,” but that word tends to have a negative connotation. I’d like to remind myself of the positive aspects of giving some of my books away: good for me, good for other readers, good for the authors of these books whose work may be discovered by other readers. Less to pack if we ever move, less for my children to deal with when that time comes. Yeah, I’m thinking ahead.