Monday, 23 February 2009

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, chapter 1

I owe big apologies to Nymeth, who posted as we'd agreed on the first chapter of Lewis Byzbee's book The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, last week, here. She picked two things I was going to write about, if my chaise hadn't sucked me into lying down on it last Monday night.....tonight I have remained virtuous and have resisted the tempation to lie back until I post here! So, I commence:

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Byzbee, a history, a memoir. Nymeth and I have decided to read this book together, and post about it chapter by chapter. I missed last week's, so here is my posting on the first chapter. Nymeth already has pointed out some of the best parts of the chapter in her link above, but there are two other sections I really loved:

One of the other clerks, Greta Ray, came up to me me, stroked the book lightly with the palm of her hand, and said, "It really is beautiful, isn't it?" It was beautiful, so I bought it.

Books, I knew then and now, give body to our ideas and imaginations, make them flesh in the world; a bookstore is the city where our fleshed-out inner selves reside.

I love that last sentence. I thought about it for a while after reading it. I realized that one of the things I am doing with my living room as I fill it with bookshelves and books, is surrounding myself with all these worlds and ideas. I can have around me all the world for the asking, by having books at my fingertips, books to open and leaf through, books to treasure, to coo over and show proudly to my company - not so they are envious, but to see if they are interested in getting a copy too. I want to share my love of books with the world, which is in part what this blog is for, and in my private life, I want my house to reflect this love also. Actually, I need it to. Like Lewis, I don't know where my love of books began, though I think mine began at a very early age, since I always seemed to have books around me, lines of books along the wall when we didn't have a bookshelf in our bedroom, and I certainly used the library as a teenager and young adult.

What I love best about books, other than all the possibilities hidden in their pages, is what Lewis says: The bookstore and the coffehouse are natural allies; neither has a time limit, slowness is encouraged. Slowness. I had one of those aha! moments when I read that line, instantly understanding that that is one of the most precious elements of reading for me: books are necessarily slow. Even if we read them quickly, a day or two at most spent with them, time is slowed when we read them. Of necessity then, our lives must slow down enough to accomodate the time to read. Even if it's on the bus, which thankfully we have back, and happily I am reading again every day on the bus! Precious moments back to me. Books, because they engage our mind, take us out of the current of time around us, pull us into another space and time. For me, I have always found this most relaxing and refreshing. It restores my soul, when I read. I come back refreshed. And I bring back something of the book with me, which means I bring back something of the writer, and so even though I have to go away in my current space to read, I bring back the world of someone else with me when I come back. So I am made bigger, my understanding of the world is slightly enlarged, every time I voyage into a book and back. And this can only be done when there is enough slowness in life to read.

That's just the first chapter! Now, since I am a little behind, I will be posting tomorrow on chapter two, and then I will have caught up with the lovely Nymeth and you, our gentle readers, can go back and forth and please, jump in if you have read this book, and let us know what you loved, enjoyed, learned, or didn't like about this book.


Jeane said...

I love that cover image. The stack of books holding a lantern like a lighthouse- it fits so perfectly with the title and (as far as I gather) tone of the book. I can't wait to read this one!

Eva said...

I read this one last year and loved it, but I especially love your talk about slowing time. So right! :)

Molly said...

Based on this post alone I MUST find a copy of this book and read it immediately. It sounds wonderful!

I wanted you to know that I gave your wonderful blog a shout out today - and an award. I truly do enjoy reading every single one of your posts.

Susan said...

jeane: Isn't it great? I always think of a lamp, lighting the way. And I like lighthouses too. I am enjoying it very much.

Eva: I'll look for your review. I know many bloggers have, but right now I have just enough time to get to post until we get that 2nd computer. I'm already being asked to make way for the littlest one....and I haven't visited yours or anyone's blog this week yet! I love that quote though :-D

Molly: I just went to your blog and left a comment, and you can see how thrilled I am because I've already added the fabulous award to my blog! thank you so much! I love the pooch and elegant Audrey Hepburn-like feel of the award too. when I get to do my post later tonight (kids already want the computer! where is that second one??) I'll give you a shout out too :-D

and i hope you get the book soon, it is a lovely read, just like sitting in a coffee house talking about books!

Kailana said...

I read this book a couple years ago and really enjoyed it! I learned a lot. :)

Ana S. said...

No worries about being late, Susan! In fact, I need to tell you something, but I'll save it for the e-mail I owe you :P

The slowness...oh, how I love the slowness.

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