Tuesday, October 16, 2018


I spent an hour looking through my books. What can go and what can stay? With a smaller house and fewer bookcases each book must carry its weight. Almost all fiction books are gone or are on my kindle. Gone are the days when my shelves held a number of mystery series and history books and both literary and popular fiction.

Today I noticed that books were beginning to find resting places on top of other books with barely any room for new books. Time to slim down. My collection today— shelves of poetry books, writing books, and religious books. Of course there’s my Complete Flannery O’Connor short stories, her letters, and her book of prose. She’ll always have shelf space.

My poetry collection grows larger. My most recent book ( a present) The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. A delightful collection of  “.. from Basho to Zagajewski.”

 The editor, John Brehm, says one of his goals  “ has been to show how beautifully the Dharma manifests even in poems by poets who were not practicing Buddhists or knew little or nothing about Buddhism.”

Then I came upon Journeys of Simplicity edited by Philip Harnden. It’s a slim book and was pushed out of view. I found an old photo tucked inside. My how young I looked.

“Traveling light—imagine this meaning: , unencumbered journeying, a graceful way of traveling.  through life like a single leaf...What would it mean to make one’s life ...a journey unencumbered, uncluttered, without distraction—a journey of focus and intention?”

Each piece in this anthology is spare— lists of journeys of simplicity. “Where do our journeys take us? What do we leave behind? What do we carry with us? How do we find our way?”

Harnden writes, “We take delight in things; we take delight in being loosed from things. Between these two delights, we must dance our lives.”

I took delight in taking twelve books to the library and great delight in finding myself rediscovering a few books. 

 And for the time when I truly run out of shelf space  I checked on Google to see if anyone had done a quasi-scientific study of vertical stacking vs horizontal stacking. It appears that horizontal sticking for paperbacks will allow you to add fifteen to twenty more books to your shelf. Of course there are some disadvantages — difficulty taking a book out of a tightly stacked column. 


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