Monday, December 28, 2009

The Gift of Knowledge

Nobody's Opinion: My Favorite Libraries
"My refuge was the Detroit Public Library. I started, it now seems to me, with the first book on the bottom shelf and went through the lot, one by one. I didn’t read a few books. I read the library.”

Thomas Edison -- The Diary and Observations

Can you imagine reading a whole Library? I can. There are fewer things in life more exciting than books to me. I can walk into any library on the earth and get heart palpitations. I want to take down every single one and read them all.

But here’s what you may not have known…Thomas Edison read the entire library of Detroit at the ripe old age of twelve. My love of a good book didn’t start until I read my mother’s edition of The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain…I was nine.

Ever since I entered the magical world of books, I have never left.

And that’s why I wanted to start off the year to tell you what I got for Christmas…my very own…library.

Like any good thing, it took years to build, and it holds mostly just reference books. I would need another whole room built for my other books.

And this library is very precious because it not only puts my books within fast reach, but hold fond memories from my family.

For instance, those yellow magazines you see in the middle shelves were a gift from a grandfather to his young granddaughter…a collection of National Geographic from the year 1956, and I have read every one. On the other side of King Tut is a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. (Grandpa again) And there on the top, my most prized possession of the Annals of America, found one day in a box at my local library, for free.

Tell me there isn’t a god.

There is also the complete works of Mark Twain, given to me by my mother who hated to read, but saw her own daughter’s love for it. It also contains her first copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Lots of family bibles and almost all the other books were gotten from libraries for basically, only 10 cents a book.

And the Egyptian statues (two pictures on top) have a story…a reminder of the last years of my mother’s life.

Here’s the story:

In 2001, my mother finally passed away. And for years, I had taken care of her after my father died. By the time the hospital bills were all paid for, and her estate taken care of, I was left with a little over a thousand dollars.

The years of being my mother’s caretaker had taken quite a toll on me, (She was on a stomach pump, and paralyzed on one side) One day, just a few days after she died, I walked into a furniture store and saw those statues, and spent my mother’s last few remaining dollars.

“Someday, I’m going to built myself an Egyptian Library!” I announced boldly to the clerk. I knew I should have put away the money, but I was grieving--sorely. Besides, strange as it may seem, I felt I deserved it.

Here it is, nine years later, and my dream of having actual shelves for my books has come true. These are books that I have kept in closets and boxes for most of my life.

And…okay…forgive me. I sort of MADE my poor husband build it for me. Yes, I pushed him on it.

If you don’t build it now…then when? There is no more room in our closets! Inflation is coming…big time! We have to do it NOW! ”

So, we bought about $200 dollars worth of pine from Home Depot, cut up some old kitchen tables, bought a few lamps, and viola!

Like I said, there are few gifts in life as exciting to me as books and there are many libraries that I love. The famous John Adams library in Quincy, MA, is one. (Above) George Lucas’s library is to die for. Mark Twain had a wonderful ambiance to his library, where, while on a tour back in 2000, I almost broke a rare lamp. I was trying to read some of the titles of his books and my purse attacked it. If not for my quick reflexes, I might be still paying off the lamp, and never being able to afford another book again.

BUT…no longer do I have to eat dinner and stare at the face of King Tut in my kitchen. And now---finally---after all these years…I have my very own nobody library!

God, I feel like I just had a baby….

Have a cigar!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amfortas says:
Of course you have books. Of course you love books. Words escape from you to fly around the world. Those that want to stay are sent out anyway taking all your rare and wonderful thoughts and musings for me to savour. They work hard for you.

I have as many as you do, very likely. I have a beautiful blue-tooled-leather-bound copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that is at least 45 years old and a companion book by Robert Graves and Omar Ali-Shah of the same poem.

I have a book recommended to me by a terse Priest when I was twenty called "Insight: a Study of Human Understanding". "Go away and read this", he said, "and them come back and talk some more". It was his way of getting rid of me, I'm sure. It took me 24 years to read it as I first got stuck on page three and had to read several other books to understand what the author (BJF Lonergan, SJ, a Jesuit) was saying. It was the same with page 6, 8, 11, 15 etc. It took several hundred books to get to the end by which time I was forty five and I have no idea where he went.


Enjoy your books Joy. Have you names for the Egyptians?

Happy New Year by the way. And give your husband a big hug.

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is far too tidy !!


4:17 AM  
Blogger Joyanna Adams said...

Well, you just suggested another book I will have to acquire, amfortas...that book you mentioned sounds just delectable and right up my curious bumper sticker ally!

And I do like to keep a neat ship.

But, you should see my Office!

Very messy. And hey--I helped build it! Even though I did not put in the nails, it was a team effort. Putting and sorting the books alone took a good week.
(Typical woman)

And yes, I did bake him a pie!

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