Wednesday again! The days go by so fast this time of year! Well, my office Corgi, Mr. Kirby, and I are happy to welcome you inside once again.
Last week we visited the kitchen. Today, let’s meander into the main office, where, no surprise, you’ll see bookcase after bookcase, all overflowing. Oh, I try to decorate and straighten, but more and more I’m embracing the chaos. I’m persuaded true bibliophiles are seldom organized because there are always more books than shelves! And when you consider that I’ve been in publishing for more than 30 years, you KNOW I’ve got an abundance of books. And what a happy abundance that is!
I’m a firm believer that if you want to get to know someone, you should peruse their bookshelves. So come meet me among the books living here. The first bookshelf holds my books on editing, grammar, publishing, marketing, and writing (both craft and research). The Courage to Write, The Forest for the Trees, Born to Kvetch, Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies, Lapsing into a Comma, BuzzMarketing, The Purple Cow… Tome after tome of words about words. And the world of words. Each one is like an old friend, and reading them always brings new realizations and knowledge. Much of which has become part of the fabric of who I am. Which is why, after the research I did on the wonderful Yiddish language for my novel What Lies Within, if you come to our house unannounced around dinnertime, you’ll most likely be served ibbergerblibbernis (Yiddish for leftovers. Isn’t that a great word?).
From there you’ll encounter a bookshelf of devotionals (Streams in the Desert holds such power in its pages!), Bible studies, versions of the Bible, commentaries, and various research books on the Bible and Bible times. These friends I’ve gathered over the years, nestling them on the shelf near my recliner so they’re readily available when I read and study. In their pages I’ve found hope and clarity, guidance and illumination, life and truth. That such things come from books…simply miraculous.
The rest of my shelves—3 ceiling to floor bookshelves in all–house novels. In these pages I’ve raged and laughed and wept at man’s weakness and God’s unending grace. I’ve solved murders, traveled through time, battled evil, rescued innocence, and risked all for justice. And love. Oh, the love held between these covers! Many of these amazing stories were written by authors whom I met as an editor and now, by God’s immeasurable kindness, count as friends. When I see their names, it makes my heart smile. And when I enter again into the worlds they created, it nurtures my spirit. And reminds me what a great honor it is to be immersed in story.
As we approach the celebration of the greatest story of all, the birth of Jesus, I encourage you to take a journey among your own shelves. Savor again the wisdom, enlightenment, and joy you found when words leapt off the page and imbedded themselves deep within, becoming threads in the fabric of your heart and mind. Let them remind you what a wondrous gift words can be. And let them move you to use words well in your own writing.
I couldn’t agree more that ones bookshelves help provide a picture of who a person is. I love my books! They are part of me, they help define me and they provide comfort/wisdom/guidance/ entertainment and anything else I might need at any given moment.
Something so comforting about walking into a room full of books. All that knowledge, wisdom, laughter, and the souls and hearts of women and men revealed on paper for us to savor, learn from and enjoy. As you put it so well, when I enter the worlds they created, it nurtures my spirit!
Two things this reminds me of: One is the first time I went into a Borders (sigh). It was small, compared to what we think of Borders usually, and all books–floor to ceiling. It had ladders that rolled along the ceiling-high bookshelves. I KNEW I wanted a room like that in my house one day. The other thing this reminds me of is the scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when the Beast gives Bell the library. Wow! Now there’s a man (or beast, or whatever) who knew what his woman wanted, rather than giving her something he thought he was “supposed” to get … like a tired old diamond ring or something :o). And you’re right about getting to know someone by their bookshelves. First place I go in a house. However, what does it say when the shelves are empty? Hmmmm.
Wow, there are a lot of word/grammar books I haven’t read and haven’t even heard of. I should get cracking on reading those…
Janet Ann Collins
Great post, Karen. I have more books than I know what to do with and hope I never have to get rid of them. Somehow e-books just aren’t the same.
Sharon A Lavy
Karen, I would feel right at home at your house. And so glad to know you wouldn’t look down your nose at my bookshelves.
In fact I just started reading by first Karen Ball book. Shattered Justice. Sigh. Now I am going to have to get the whole series!!!!!!
Thanks for the wonderful post, Karen. Your words so resonated with this book lover and collector, and I also could relate to many of the readers’ comments. Streams in the Desert is the one devotional I return to every year; I treasure the copy my mother was given the year I was born.
Filled bookcases reside in every room in my house–except the bathrooms! I love the warmth and personality books bring to a home…and that so much joy is always at my fingertips.
I am reminded of the first sentence of this quote: “A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them.”
Horace Mann (US educator, the first great American advocate of public education, 1796-1859)
May this December find at least one book under every book lover’s Christmas tree!
Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your daily life, Karen.
Most of my dear friends are in boxes in storage. I have precious few out in my room right now. But a perusal of my bookshelf right now reveals an intense love of historical romance and a fascination with military thrillers.
Anita Mae Draper
Your office home looks comfortable, Karen. I’d say peaceful, but I’m not sure how Kirby would take that. 😮 Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world.
I’ve always felt more at home in a roomful of books than people. Go figure.
I am a word and language fanatic, so I love the word ibbergerblibbernis. Think I’ll serve it sometime this week.
I agree with you about book lovers always being disorganized, only I’d use the word cluttered.
Have a blessed Christmas
My first instinct was to laud all I read here, for it is delightfully written and thought provoking. However, I later felt disquieted.
In the book of Eli, a violent movie starring Denzel Washington, the last bible in a post-apocalyptic world is carried westward across the states. En route the book is lost to a demagogue who wants to use it manipulatively to enslave what is left of mankind. Unfortunately, he finds the stolen copy to be written in braille, which no one can read.
The blind courier continues his journey, having faithfully memorized every word on his long journey. He finally reaches the last press, ironically on Alcatraz Island, and dictates the entire KJV bible to the press – who then print it and cynically place it on their shelves alongside the Koran and the Torah.
Its not what we have on our shelves or the company we keep that defines us, but the Word written in our hearts that is read and known by all men (2 Cor 3). I love the written Word, it is my life, but unless our words transform lives, they are like stone tablets – great relics, wonderful museum pieces, marvelous talking points, yet of limited impact on the world around us. Never underestimate the debilitating power of worldliness to tame the potency of God’s word.
As part of the greater community of writers that have faithfully carried the baton of truth across generations and through history, we must accept a higher calling. Ours is not merely to write or to be read, but to convey the heart of God to a lost and dying world, whilst instilling fire in His people. Here I must quote Karen, and add: “we must make (such words) part of the threads of our hearts and minds”.
We are living in heady times – never has our calling been more urgent or more relevant.
A dog and a roomful of books with a comfy chair. What more could you possibly want?
Sarah, I must agree … but if I was getting greedy, I’d ask for a snowy day outside, a warm drink, a roaring fire and … of course my husband massaging my feet. But alas, we must leave some things for heaven :o).
So THAT’S when I get my footrub! ; )
Thanks for the glimpse into such a beautiful and comfortable corner of your home. It inspires me to, yes, buy more bookshelves.