My Need to Read

Because my library is still off limits, I’m destined to read whatever crosses my path. (Imagine books with feet marching around my living room, poking their noses into every corner, wondering why I don’t pay more attention to them.) Of course there are temptations online and I admit to falling into that trap occasionally. But what about my resident writers who have long deserved space on my shelves, some in the big living room book case, some on a separate shelf that I call my stars, and four shelves of how-to-write books in my office?

Why not read what’s here, ready and eager to migrate from the shelf to the book box beside my easy chair. Greed? Yes, I admit to that. Given the room and the budget, I might buy more books than groceries. However, compulsive spending is not likely to happen. So I strive for moderation. This week I confess to buying two books–John Irving’s Witches of Eastwick (because Margaret Atwood mentioned it in a recent interview) and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction. The Kolbert book I devoured, the Irving book yet unread.

Instead, I browsed my top shelf and pulled out Jose Saramago’s The Notebook, a collection of his blog posts from 2008-2009. And wow! Many of the concerns he wrote about are timely now in 2020. I’m not sure if it comforts or disturbs me that our 2008 elected officials in the US enraged him. Imagine what he would say today!

Kolbert’s science is as disturbing as Saramago’s politics. And so far fictional witches seem superfluous. Wherever a book comes from, it has to win space in my life. This week, two out of three is a pretty good score.

Please visit #PoemsFor2020

Top Twenty Shelf

Recently, I had a discussion with four other women writers in which we talked about Virginia Woolf’s classic A Room of Ones Own. My copy is marked with the little dots I put at key points, a few underlines, and some modest wear on the dust jacket. But to me it’s a valuable book. And that made me think of other books that I keep because reading them was a memorable experience. A few are signed, more than a few are from years ago. But I’m about to move them to a place of honor, my mentors, teachers, exemplars. Slight apology to men, but these are my select twenty women writers. I’ve made some tough decisions, because many of them have multiple titles that I treasure, but I’m making myself evaluate what matters most. Here they are:

Addonizio, Kim. Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions of a Writing Life

Allende, Isabelle. Paula

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale

Chodron, Pema. The Pema Chodron Collection

Cisneros, Sandra. My Wicked Wicked Ways

Conway, Jill Kerr. The Road from Coorain

Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Forche, Carolyn. Against Forgetting

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones

Greer, Germaine. Female Eunuch

Kingsolver, Barbara. Small Wonder

Levertov, Denise. The Complete Poems

Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time

Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born

Steinem, Gloria. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

Tan, Amy. The Opposite of Fate

Wakoski, Diane. The Butcher’s Apron

Williams, Terry Tempest. When Women Were Birds

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of Ones Own

If you have such a list, I’d like to see it. Let me hear from you.