Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Comfort of Books

As I've been living out the past few days since my friend Maureen left this earth, and have felt a variety of emotions from loss, deep grief, and yet wonder and peace and gratitude that she is in her heavenly home and free to dance and live joyfully amazed in heaven. I've once more come to the conclusion that one great comfort during times of loss can be found in books.
My first comfort always comes from God, and yet I know that He has given us a great gift in the availability of good books to read.
I've been surrounding myself with books that Maureen loved as though they are blankets, or as some clothe themselves with the garments their loved ones wore.
Here is a list of some of the ones I found at the library today, as well as some others that are a delight.
Several books by C.S. Lewis, one of which I've been reading for awhile, slowly, is A Horse and His Boy. Another is Surprised by Joy. I'm also reading a book about G.K. Chesterton called Common Sense 101. What a delight. How I would have loved to meet him and have a chance to listen to him speak, or just spend time with him. There is a chapter in the book about wonder, and another chapter about art that every artist should read. He was a cheerful, witty genius. I adore his writing and insights.
I've got these books scattered around the house and I bring several in the car with me wherever I go. Each one of them has gems that are well worth reading many times.
Today I got several of Wendall Berry's books out because my friend loved his writing. One of them is Hannah Coulter, another is The Hidden Wound, and another is Fidelity-(Five Stories). Can you tell I'm stuffing myself on books? Some people over-eat, I guess I tend to do that with books, even if I can't finish them all, it gives me comfort to have them around and start them, waiting to see which one calls to me. Sometimes I read interspersed, and the writing somehow becomes a stew of inspiration.
Now for the children's books. My absolute favorite is by Shel Silverstein....Runny Babbit...oh my..if you have not read it, RUN and get it out, especially if you have a young child, or anyone with a good sense of humor. It MUST be read out loud. I'm going to buy it for myself..oops...I mean my daughter. She loves it, and I'm hooked on it too. We roared with laughter in the car on the way home from the library when she read it.
Since Christmas is only days away, I also got out Dylan Thomas's book A Child's Christmas in Wales, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. (you've got to have Trina's illustrated version of the book, since her illustrations are unlike anyone else's and have such charm and warmth.
Then there is The Bird's Christmas Carol, by Kate Douglas Wiggin, complete with the lovliest pen and ink illustrations. What a gem it is.
I also found a book called The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder, illustrated by Rosemary Wells. Last, but not least, a YA novel that looks fascinating, called Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher. I think I've got plenty to keep me for the next few days.

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