Friday, August 21, 2009

The Sensuality of Books

The Spin Cycle this week is books. Holy Crapola. How to narrow THAT down into a single post?

I love books and have since I was a little girl. I remember reading thick paperbacks in elementary school that were discarded by my mom or older sister when they were finished with them. Of getting so lost in other worlds that I felt completely transported and of being able to tune out the low roar of a noisy family of five to the point that I furthered my reputation as a loopy child.

I love nothing better than a book that can take me away. Of words strung together so well that I want to read passages out loud and hear the symphony of their sound.

I know a lot of people are loving their Kindles, but me, I’m not interested yet. As much as I have come to love blogging, there is only so much free time in a day and blogging (which means sitting in front of a computer with its migraine inducing hum of light) already has taken a lion share of the time I used to spend reading books.

I love the feel of a book. Of curling up with a good book in a favorite chair, or in bed, or under a tree, or in a beach chair.

I love libraries and bookstores; they are spiritual places for me. While attending the University, I remember walking through the stacks of books on a less trafficked floor, of stopping and selecting something that looked and felt ancient and sitting down on the cold floor and reading it. Carefully turning the pages, caressing the hard cover, and wondering who else had held that same book and where were they now…

While in Boston on a family vacation in the summer of 2007, my daughter and I found a bookstore that specialized in rare and old books. We spent a few hours in the narrow confines and steep stairways reading passages from books that had once been used by students at Boston University, Harvard, and MIT. Sharing the names and dates we found inscribed inside the covers of the books.

I keep my favorite books. There is the idea that I will get back to the book again someday. Sometimes I don’t, or at least haven’t yet. Often when I reread a book years later I am a different person and therefore the book seems different too. I enjoy being a living example of Rosenblatt’s theory of Reader Response.

This summer I bought the book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. I decided to reread her book Prodigal Summer first – a kind of warm up. I first read Prodigal Summer years ago in my book club. I had remembered loving it (I also loved Poisonwood Bible). After 10 years in book club, reading a book a month, and getting together with a group of women friends for wine and food and friendly discussion, I don’t remember all the books. So I know that one that stands out after years and 100’s of other books read must have been a gem.

And it is. I’m loving it even more this second reading and taking my time enjoying beyond the story, the brilliance of her writing. I especially love the way she works the cycles of nature into the sensuality and sexuality of the characters.

I leave you with a few passages…

She learned to tell time with her skin, as morning turned to afternoon and the mountain’s breath began to bear gently on the back of her neck. By early evening it was insistent as a lover’s sigh, sweetened by the damp woods, cooling her nape and shoulders whenever she paused her work in the kitchen to lift her sweat damp curls off her neck. She had come to think of Zebulon Mountain as another man in her life, larger and steadier than any other companion she had ever known.

But here and now spring heaved its randy moment. Everywhere you looked something was fighting for time, for light, the kiss of pollen, a connection of sperm and egg and another chance.

It was the body’s decision, a body with no more choice of its natural history than an orchid has, or the bee its needs, and so they would both get lost here, she would let him in, anywhere he wanted to go. In the last full hour of daylight, while lacewings sought solace for their brief lives in the forest’s bright upper air, and the husk of her empty nylon parka lay tangled with his in the mud, their two soft-skinned bodies completed their introductions on the floor of her porch.

For more spins on books, head on over to Jen at Sprite’s Keeper.

34 comments:

darsden said...

I love the passages...

But where do you people find all this time for reading. It is all I can do to keep up with the 500 blogs I follow okay so it's closer to 200 but I can't keep up and have a life outside the computer!

I know you are extremely busy so tell me how are you adding in real books?

only a movie said...

I love Barbara Kingslover and really loved High Tide in Tuscon a whole lot. I haven't read this latest, and may have to re-read some old ones.

It's so important to teach kids about reader response when teaching comprehension (for emerging readers). Some of my little ones don't have confidence and are worried that their meaning isn't the right one. (Some of them don't even know that they have to make it mean something - they think if they sound out the words, they're reading.) Ack. You are making me get my brain in gear for school in 10 days...

Great spin.

Kristan said...

I LOVED Poisonwood Bible, so I might have to give Prodigal Summer a shot.

Sigh. So many books to read, so little free time!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Wow, that is a GREAT passage. I'll be on the lookout for this one!
Wonderful as always, Pseudo! You're linked!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Wow, that is a GREAT passage. I'll be on the lookout for this one!
Wonderful as always, Pseudo! You're linked!

Amy said...

Now that my little one takes some naps I am back to reading. I love it. I just finished Time Traveler's Wife and I am now reading Julie and Julia...

Jan said...

You know, I don't get to read like I used to. Now I'm going to go home, grab a book and read until my eyes bleed.

Or I fall asleep, which ever comes first.

Mama Dawg said...

Sigh..........books. I love 'em. 'Nuff said.

blueviolet said...

The last thing I want to do after looking at the computer for hours on end is to look at the screen of a Kindle. (Of course, I say this before I've tried one.)

But, I just love snuggling in bed with my book. It's the cap on a perfect day.

I love the passages you chose. I bought the Poisonwood Bible not too long ago from a used book store and it's in my TBR pile.

Cid said...

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favourites as well. I love all her books but "High Tide in Tuscon" is a wonderful book of essays about family and being a mother and "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" changed the way I shop and feed my family. I feel the same way about books - Kindle can't hold candle to them, if you pardon the pun.

Captain Dumbass said...

I'm with you on the Kindle. My wife would love one, but I don't think I'll ever give up books. And I'll never have to worry about the effects of background radiation from a book in my lap.

Those passages... whew. *fans face* I think I'll check those out.

Michel said...

i really love my kindle. However, I also really really loved the language in the poisonwood bible. When you seperate the sentences out apart, it is amazing.

I don't do that often, that book was really good. you can actually get lost in the language.

otin said...

What is really funny is that I love writing, but hate reading, well not really hate, but it takes a GREAT book to keep my interest. The last great book to me was the Davinci Code.

Hit 40 said...

In the morning, I love holding a newspaper in my hands with coffee. Several towns have lost their local paper due to the internet...

I hope I do not lose mine.

Michele said...

Libraries and bookstores as spiritual places is why I became a librarian after 20 years of accounting. It's the feel and smell of the paper. It's the heft of the book. It's the getting lost in the words when the outside world is boiling around me. Those are what are important about books. Kindles and electronics can't compete.

Reluctant Housewife said...

I just feel wrong when I run out of books to read. That's why I love the library so much... especially now that I can just request books online and have them waiting for me when I get there. Nice!

Nothing better than bringing home a fresh stack of reading!

GutsyWriter said...

New to your blog from somewhere?
I find myself reading much less than I really want to as I spend hours writing and visiting other blogs. I love my library where i can bring in a delicious cup of coffee and write. I always take breaks to look at books and magazines though.

ds said...

Lovely. I, too, prefer to have the actual book in my hand. I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver's writing very much, but don't think I've read this one. Will have to add it to the List; the passage you quote is wonderful. Thank you.

Beth said...

I love how you describe your physical need to have books in your life. Having grown up with significant hearing issues, I am forever grateful that my mother (the reading specialist) taught me how to read when I was 4. Reading has been the thing that has saved me. When I can't hear what is going on, I can read about it.

Recently, I had a birthday and my mother took me out for dinner. Afterwards, she took me to a bookstore. She knows me so well. Food and books. Does it get any better than that?

Love, love, love all the Kingsolver books!

Gaston Studio said...

I'm a huge reader, on the average of one every 4 days, mostly of good fiction. I always bought hardbacks and always reread each and every book, some many times. Then I got older and it became difficult for me to hold a huge hardback. I went on SS so it was difficult for me to buy every new book that came out and I want them ALL from my favorite authors!
I love my Kindle for many reasons but I still, sometimes, miss holding a huge hardback in my hands and seeing them on my crowded bookshelves and smelling them and, yes, hoarding them. But I won't "go back" because I can't afford to.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I love books and don't have a Kindle. Everyone I know loves theirs but I just can't do it yet...I just like the feel (and smell!) of books.

I have two books as a giveaway going on now. Stop by if you can.

Kathryn Magendie said...

"I love libraries and bookstores; they are spiritual places for me."

Yes! The library was my sanctuary as a child - I still feel reverential when I step into one.

Creepy said...

The Bean Trees is one of my all time fave books...

I'm starting to let go of my book collection. I've hoarded them for a long time, dragged them from state to state, house to house... now when someone expresses interest in a book that I have in my collection I offer it up and don't expect it to be returned.

Pastor Sharon said...

Barbara Kingsolver has the ability to take me far away to the Congo! Sounds like she has done it for you as well!
I have read and re-read those books and love the way she turns words into a spell-binding affair.
This is a beautiful post!

I just finished a book early this morning called THE SHACK! I recommend it for every reason! OH it does bring all kinds of things up! It made me stretch in all areas, made me laugh and cry at the same time! You can purchase it anywhere right now. It's a paperback!

S3XinthePantry said...

Oh, I also love her book ANIMAL DREAMS

I so agree with you about book, libraries and getting lost. Sometimes I delay finsihing a book I really love..just to keep it "with me" longer.

Bella said...

one could get lost in the passages, especially when the book is one you can put down.

Nap Warden said...

I hate to admit, I never get to read anymore:( I used to all the time when I was single girl. I feel so out of the loop.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I completely agree with you regarding books vs kindle. I love turning the pages and placing the bookmark in the book.

It could also be the computer gives me a headache after awhile and sometimes I like to flip back or forward and read the ending of a book.

I also love the magazine. I may go online for a quick update, but I love reading my magazines.

Amy said...

I have something on my blog just for you when you can come by.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

It's so true. When you are able to string words together like that it's melodious. Lulls you. Draws you in.

mo.stoneskin said...

Second-hand book stores are my favourite. My absolutely favourite store is one which has an ancient spiral staircase down into a basement, where there are hundreds of dusty old books. I love picking up a cheap, beautiful hardback of one of my favourite authors.

starrlife said...

Late but totally with you on this post! Love Barbara Kingsolver's books, love most any books and I am so jealous of your reading group x 10 years.

nothingfancy1 said...

Wonderful post!!!

class-factotum said...

If you liked The Poisonwood Bible, you might like King Leopold's Ghost, which is a nonfictional account (but reads like a novel) of the Belgian colonization of the Congo.