I spent part of last week surrounded by wonderful books, books that were selected with love and care, books that brought back memories of learning to read, of childhood, of my mother’s annoyance for having to read the same book over and over and over because it was the one book that all three of her children loved (and she couldn’t stand the book). Many of you will say, “aren’t you surrounded by books everyday?? aren’t you a librarian??” Yes, to both questions. But my sister’s personal library is a much different collection than the endless books on rows of shelves in a library. Of course, some of the same books are on the shelves but they have not been loved and shared in the same way.
I came across Questions About Angels, a collection of poems by Billy Collins. Though I was familiar with Collins and other collections, I had not come across this collection. The title poem delighted me for a number of reasons. (Click the link and read it. See if it makes you smile too.) I have continued to dip in and out of this volume over the past several days and have found several poems that contain images that make me pause, phrases that are a pleasure to read and contemplate.
I have thumbed through several volumes of poetry over the past week, however. There are a number of volumes that were formative in my love of literature and language. I have never been very good at remembering poetry for some reason but as I have looked at these books and thought about my sister, snippets of poems have been surfacing like lost gems. Words and images provide comfort and reassurance that all will be well in time.
I also perused novels on the shelves in my sister’s apartment. When she requested that I bring her George Eliot’s Middlemarch and a notebook, I told her that I would finally read Dickens. Three degrees in English and I have never made it through a Dickens novel. I hope no one rescinds my degrees. So in her honor, I am reading David Copperfield. I asked to use her copy, full of notes from her AP teaching, as my reading copy. She said to keep it as long as I liked. I feel truly blessed.