Books + Shoes
Have you guys seen the hoarder television shows? They make me itchy. I cannot imagine living with — nor feeling like I need — so much stuff. It makes me ache a bit for those profiled; you can tell it isn’t about the physical stuff, so much as something emotional that cracked long ago.
That said, there are two things I would hoard. Books and shoes.
I have more books than I care to admit. They are hidden under my bed, in the kitchen, stacked high on shelves in Matty’s room, in boxes at my parent’s house in Texas, in my patio storage unit and over flowing a bookshelf at work. There are unhealthier things to collect, but still. In an attempt to reel this little obsession in, I’m not buying books. (Unless otherwise required for book club, assuming they aren’t available at the library.)
I read a couple new books this week worth mentioning.
A Supremely Bad Idea by Luke Dempsey is the story of three friends who bird. The true tale of their adventures in spotting birds and being a part of the “birding” community is snort-laugh funny. Dempsey is British and the book is written with this dry, sarcastic undertone that didn’t wear me out. The section on their adventures in south eastern Arizona was particularly sweet to read.
The thoughtful prose made me want to pick up a pair of binoculars for the first time in my life and go look to the heavens.
“The violet-crowned hummingbird beat its wings around 34 times. It’s a number to boggle the mind; I can’t even conceive of doing anything 34 times every second. This felt like the most salient fact about hte world that I could muster, right then. And many times since. When I squeeze onto a train in Manhattan, or when I’m stuck in traffic getting out of Manhattan, or when something is screaming at me on the phone about a tiny, tiny thing, more often than not what comes to mind is this fact: somewhere in southeast Arizona, a bird is beating its wings 34 times a second. It does so to enable itself to extract much-neede sustenance from Mrs. Paton’s feeders, or from flowers, whichever it can find. As we pave over the flowers, the commitment of citizen birders like Mrs. Paton, just like that of er husband before her, will becom eeven more critical. There on Pennsylvania Avenue — the irony of the address was not lost on me — Marion Paton’s actions were so selfless as to be a manifestation of the good, and seemed a fitting punctuation to the magic that was this corner of America. We’d come expecting rare birds, but we’d found rare people too.”
Three out of five bananas — I particularly enjoyed this having sat with an American birder on safari. Bob worked for the World Bank and was in Malawi to assess a large grant proposal to build a new damn. He was one of the most peculiar people I’ve met because the baby elephants did nothing for him. But the birds! The man had a giant birding book in his fanny pack and he whipped that sucker out to cross off several “life birds” on our brief trip. Bob fit into this story well.
The second book — The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan — is a piece of art. It is so well done, I stopped half-way through reading and immediately purchased three copies online to give as Valentine’s gifts. It is a love story told through short entries that are alphabetized like a dictionary. You can read the entries independently and be fulfilled. Reading the book from cover to cover provides an entirely different tale and is such a treat.
One of my favorite entries:
Sometimes it becomes a contest: Which is more stubborn, the love or the two arguing people caught within it?”
Five out of five bananas, absoloodle.
Thanks to Matty’s great return to the desert yesterday afternoon, I’m now enjoying The Delta. He picked it up for me in South Africa en route. So glad the African is home. Listening to him and Adam catch up yesterday was like a sweet family reunion. Those two boys were meant to be friends.