The Compass Rose: Saving Father Christmas from Kris Kindle

ainslieuhl by Ainslie Jones Uhl

My office, right now, is a shameless jumble of multiple typed drafts of works in progress, random but important thoughts penned on index cards, carefully considered newspaper clippings, half-filled Moleskines and yellow legal pads, and dozens of books piled not so neatly on the floor. It is a writer’s room.

Much of what is out there in the chain gang is not for me. This is what I love: to peruse the shelves of an independent bookshop, sampling its wares, feeling the heft of this volume, admiring the dust jacket of that one, opening an enticing cover to expose crisp white pages that dare us to enter a new world. I want subtle enlightenment. I want an escape. I want to be reminded of universal truths. And I want all of that in a hard-bound book. In a recent podcast, The Writer’s Almanac quoted writer Tom McGuane:

Literature is still the source of my greatest excitement. My prayer is that it is irreplaceable. Literature can carry the consciousness of human times and social life better than anything else. Look at the movies of the 1920s, watch the Murrow broadcasts, you can't recognize any of the people. Now, read Fitzgerald — that's it. That is the truth of the times. Somebody has to be committed to the idea of truth.

You can tell a lot about a person from the books they keep. Choosing a book is a deliberate intimacy. It is an organic, sensual, emotional act of intellectual generosity. This is why I was rather shaken by the seminar I attended last week on the future of book publishing.
Continue reading at Women's Voices for Change, and join our discussion about e-readers.


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.