Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?
Marina Tsvetaeva

I love this opening line - the thought of books being out there, whilst you're not watching, living lives of their own accord, visiting places and meeting people, changing their minds about how they'll proceed...just makes me smile.

But the part that holds true for me in particular is how you never step into the same book twice - either you have moved or the book has moved; I think mostly you have moved. So often you bring quite different experiences, understandings, expectations and wisdoms to a book when you re-read it.

I quite like re-reading good books; I often get so much more out of them the second time. It might be that I take a completely different angle on something or that I have had experiences that let me understand things in a different manner - allow me to empathise where previously I dismissed; or  enable me to share in angst or ecstasy I had never previously understood.

Barry and I regularly cull our bookshelves; we try to pass books on, re-circulate them, give them away or whatever; and it's always interesting to me to see the ones I keep - that I have either read a few times or know I will read again.

In a way, I also think that no two people ever step into the same book - and isn't a book group a great demonstration of that! Books that some have to race out and recommend to their nearest and dearest; others of us have to say please may I never be forced to read it again. Some of us find a book deeply moving and poignant; others think it was self-indulgent claptrap! So a book is never just a book is it? It's a heap of words and a story written down that we then get to interpret and bring our own loves, prejudices, dreams and fears to.

©2010 Creek at Lucas Parklands


  1. you cull books? eeek! never! (I still have most of my childhood favourites)

    I'm a big re-reader.... but I am worried that I'll wear the words right off the page from my constant re-reading!

  2. Great post, Fiona! I Love the idea that a book might be evolving inside those covers!! As you know, I'm Immersed in the River of stones through July and have also recently got back from staying right beside a river in Wales where everything seemed to take on such a gorgeous flow, so rivers are on my mind.

  3. I'm with Ronnie. I hardly ever throw a book out or recirculate it. Just when I would, there would be something I remembered in there that I wanted to look at again and it wouldn't be there. I love that idea that inside the book things are evolving and changing, perhaps taking other people where I have not been or gone to yet. Great write today.

  4. I too once kept them all Ronnie; but a few more moves in my life, let me learn to let go...and now I'm even OK with it! I love the pages where the hands have worn the words...and the paper is thin...

    Annie - rivers are so right for you right now aren't they!?! And don't you just love that notion of the book maybe taking a wander all of its own...

    Teri - nice to 'meet' you here! It's a bit scary to let them go; and yes I have had moments of going to reach for one and finding its no longer here - but I love a public library too, so off I go if I get desperate (or I buy it again second-hand!). Not often...It's an intriguing notion of the book taking off in its own way isn't it...just lovely an enough to make us go and check they haven't!

  5. Fiona,
    I buy many second hand books and love it most when there are notations in them. Someone has already passed them on after loving them and I'm just the next custodian until I do the same, however I will admit to a small collection of books that I have read over and over again and could never bear to part with. You're right - something different can happen with each reading!

  6. Fiona....what a magical notion that those words, ideas and mysteries inside a book continue to live and move without us. I love that idea and it's connection to a moving river is quite apt...for many reasons! Thanks for the inspiration. I find it very difficult to get rid of books, but almost never reread them either. When we moved here from Florida....the trucks was loaded mostlly with books, some rocks and the contents of our one could believe it was the household of just two people....alas...I can't part with them! Cheers!

  7. I've never culled books before, but I do feel a cull coming on. I have art books on every surface, so all those old novels, read and reread, are off to book heaven (wherever that is) to make space on my shelves for books I really want to keep.

  8. Lesley - sounds like you've got the balance right to me! And I do find that I notice something different each time; or appreciate some things even more just for re-reading.

    Patti- so true, it's a delightful notion! The river resonates does it not? I love that your truck was full of books - it's such a good image.

    Jo - Do it when you're feeling strong I say! It's not easy; so maybe just a little bit the first time...

  9. Great post, Fiona. The idea that books move without us makes me smile too! Like you, I think it is the reader that changes between dips into the literary river, but who knows? There are times I have re-read a book and I swear it is not the one I read initially, even taking into account my own shifts in the meantime! Growing, changing beings they are indeed.

  10. We try to cull our books but when a pile is ready to take to the hospice shop we end up putting half back in the bookcase. Then we go to the hospice shop with our diminishing pile and come back with even more books. Impossible!!

  11. maybe it's an age thing, keeping only the best loved ones... but sharing books is good, too

  12. G/TT - It's fabulous to think about those books moving and changing; independent little spirits! I too sometimes surprise myself by thinking - how could I have missed that? when I read something a second time...perhaps the book really DID move!

    Robyn - I love it! I totally get that feeling of feeling good about yourself, not quite pulling it off completely, then coming home with more - fabulous! We can never walk by a book shop without ducking in and mostly bringing another one or two home. Sigh.

    V- I think so too - a sense of those that are truly worthy; and we do love keeping them moving as well, getting them out here in the world to share...


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.