Daddy, where do books come from?
The stork brings them.
True or not, I must have had this two sentence exchange with my late father as I looked at his 10,000 books. Perhaps I asked my question when a college English teacher said, “Malcolm, for heaven’s sake, expand your reading. I challenge you to read and then tell me what you read after picking up a volume of Saint-John Perse’s poetry. He won the Nobel Prize. You ought to know that before walking into my classroom.”
I’d never heard of him. There was nothing from him in the college bookstore. But then, there it was, Eloges and other Poems, on a shelf in the living room. We always wrote our names in our books along with the year we bought them. Mother wrote her name in this one the year I was born. Perse’s poems ended up having a great influence on me. Had I seen that book on the shelf a week or a month earlier, I would have ignored it. When I was ready, it was in plain sight.
Do you ever feel this way when you’re idly looking at your book shelves, take down a book you haven’t read, and wonder how it got there?
I’ve stopped wondering. I assume faerie people are responsible, if not always for the actual purchase, but leading me to buy it, to misplace it, and later to “discover” it on my shelves. This just happened with Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I could see the book from my desk chair, couldn’t remember reading it but assumed I must have read it and then moved on to books I did remember reading.
But I was desperate. I’d run out of factory fresh books to read. So I picked up this book, thinking, “What the hell is this anyway?” I started to read and kept reading. I guess I bought it and forgot it until several days ago. I know why. I’ve been thinking a lot about doors, thesholds, and other liminal places lately, so this book knew it was time and made itself known.
I no longer question the synchonicstic apperance of books. I fact, I rather expect it. “Something” always knows what I’m looking for often before I consciously know I’m looking for it. In my novel in progress, my main character was thinking about the view of dusk as the hour between the dog and the wolf. (See my other blog.) At dusk, you can’t always tell what’s what because dusk is a threshold–like a doorway. Objects and entities transform, change like oneself when stepping thgrough certain doorways.
Once you launch a thought into the universe, the answer appears–rather like the old phrase “the teacher appears when the student is ready.” I thought that was bunk when I first heard it. A lifetime has proven it to be true.
Especially when it comes to the appearance of books on my shelf.