Imagine a room with pine plank floors and inset shelves painted a lush white, nine feet tall, three feet wide, six inches apart, running the length of a room on either side of a broad picture window. On each shelf there are of course well used books from every era of modern literature, spines of faded greens and blues, golds, reds, black, and brown. Each shelf is discreetly lighted from above, and center of the ceiling is a tarnished brass chandelier salvaged from an antebellum house before it was razed to the ground.
Cozied up between some of the books are other treasures. A vintage typewriter, cameras and clocks that lost their innards before being sold at an estate sale or flea market. Carefully framed black and white portraits, dreamy landscapes, doodles that from a distance look like a study of sea life or forgotten birds. Homemade candles, jars of herbs, feathered quills next to an ink pot—not a real antique, but a nice reproduction.
This room carries the scents of yellowed pages and waning herbs, the faintest hint of tobacco and the laundry soap used on the pale yellow curtains flanking that broad picture window, the natural ingredients that give those pine planks a nice healthy sheen. In front of the window is a comfy chair, a free-standing lamp—nothing too frilly—and a round table maybe cut from the same wood as the floors. One chair for one person. One lamp. One table. This room is mine. It can be admired from the doorway by others, but they don’t have permission to linger, to pick up a book or inspect the treasures, or sit in that comfortable chair.
This is the haven I will build sometime in the future. Decades ago the picture of it was hazy, but it gets clearer every year. The chair will be turquoise, the lamp shade a sleek pale gold drum, and there will be a rug center of the floor. Something hand woven and older than me, something woven with all the colors of all the books. When the morning light slants through my picture window and a mug of coffee sits beneath swirls of aromatic steam and there is a book in my hand, I might look down at that rug and decide to stretch out as the text inside the book of that day becomes a staircase that walks me into a new world, a new home, a new set of friends.
This week I’ve read with that picture growing ever more dimensional and richly painted in my mind’s eye. There will undoubtedly be copies of my latest reads there, someday. My compliments to Celeste Ng for Little Fires Everywhere. The transition from character to character facilitated by her third person omniscient narrator was often seamless and always lovely. The rich tone of the book, the insightful narration, the development of characters … a pleasure. The reference to This Be the Verse , relevant.
In between enjoying that read and almost finishing another, the local library took three days to notify me of a book on hold then removed the hold before I could get there to pick up the books. That was disappointing. Meanwhile I’ve downloaded a copy of Tana French’s The Witch Elm and I’m looking forward to reading this author again. Her style of writing, of piecing together a mystery is fascinating. Last year I read In the Woods , and though I was frustrated that the hints of paranormal activity never proved to solidify beyond the narrator’s imagination, I have to admit true enjoyment overall of a mystery not totally resolved. Oh, her pretty pretty turns of phrase.
For now I carry a journal full of bad penmanship plotting out my next writing project or seven. And a shaft of early morning light pooling on the plank floor of my future home library. For now I’m off to the day job.