Skip to content

The Treasure of Good Books

June 7, 2010

We went to the Library today.  I should be much better about bringing my kids to the library.  I am a book lover, right?  I prefer book stores.  I have purchased many, many books.  It is a guilty pleasure.  However, Sarah and Katie are going through books so fast that I would be dead broke if I kept purchasing books for them.  Sarah reads so fast that she can finish a whole chapter book in one day.  (Like The Magic Tree House books.)  Last week, I sat down at my trusty computer and took book orders and requested a whole bunch from the library.  We went to pick some up on Saturday, and more were ready today.  Katie and Nicholas got some browsing time, and I helped them find some books.  Katie is trying out a couple of chapter books I haven’t even heard of, but the summary of the books seem okay.  I suggested to Nicholas that he try some Cam Jansen books, which were a hit!  Sarah couldn’t wait to get started on The Little House on the Prairie.  After school today I had a quiet house.  I love having readers in my house.

Have you ever read The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel?  It is one of my favorite books of all time.  I read it years ago when Jeff and I went to Mexico.  It was a work trip of sorts.  My husband’s boss has two condos that he invites employees to enjoy after they have worked for him for around 10 years.  All expenses paid.  With “guides.”  (Usually his children are the guides.)  It was an incredible trip, and I still think about how lucky we were to have such a gift bestowed upon us.  One of the best things about this trip was that our children were not invited.  They were little (two and four).  I had the luxury of taking care of (only) myself for seven days.  I didn’t make a meal, or do a dish.  My only responsibility was to shower and show up on time to outings.  It was a slice of Heaven on Earth.  I was able to read many books on this trip.  By the pool.  Overlooking the ocean.  One of the books was Life of Pi.  Did I mention Heaven?  Yeah.

Imagine my surprise today when I got in my car and Yann Martel was set to be on MPR.  I wanted to stop and listen, but we had errands.  I heard snippets while we drove from place to place, and I knew that I would be downloading the podcast when I got home.  Yann Martel was amazing.  Amazing.  No, really, Amazing.  He has a new book out called Beatrice & Virgil.  It is about the Holocaust.  I usually tend to shy away from such books because of the sheer terror that encompasses genocide, but I am fascinated and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.  His views about animals are so interesting.  I have never considered an animal to be a “canvas” on which to write before.  I encourage you to listen to it. I crocheted while I listened.

During this interview, he mentioned a website that he began that is also fascinating.  You see, I know nothing of Canadian politics.  I couldn’t have named the Prime Minister before today.  I have no idea if Stephen Harper is a good Prime Minister, or a bad Prime Minister, or what his political leanings are.  I do know, however, that he is impolite.  At least with regards to Yann Martel.  Mr. Martel began sending Stephen Harper books a while back.  A new book every two weeks.  He puts an inscription in the book, and writes a detailed letter discussing why he chose the book for that week and some key points to consider while reading the book.  He posts all of the books, letters, inscriptions, and replys  on his website:  What is Stephen Harper Reading? His letters are brilliant.  All of the books are short, about 200 pages (or less!).  Many I have never heard of, most I have never read.  I am obsessed with reading all of them.  Mr. Harper has yet to actually reply to any of these letters.  Yann Martel has had a couple of form letter thank-yous from his staff, but nothing from the Prime Minister directly.  Rude.  No Manners.  Gifts of books from a brilliant Canadian author, with notes!  Priceless.  And you can gain access to these gifts on his website!

A wonderful day of book contemplation.  Books are like treasure, don’t you think?

  1. June 8, 2010 6:27 am

    Oh! How happy this post makes me!! My kids go to the school library so regularly that I almost never have to take them…and since the books I want to read (in English) are rarely to be found in the Swedish public libraries, I usually end up purchasing all my books, too. But I have such fond memories of the library, and really wish there was a “REAL” (read: ALL ENGLISH) one here.

    Martin is a maniac reader, and already re-reading books that he loves. He’s into Percy Jackson and the Warriors Cats books lately. Karin mostly wants to read comics and World of Warcraft stuff, but she’s also been expanding. And of course, we are nearly 3/4 done with Watership Down. I really want to get it finished before we leave next Friday. (Next Friday! !!)

    Thanks so much for the tip on the website from Yann Martel. I love Life of Pi when I read it years ago as well, and am so glad to hear he has a new book, though like you I’m not terribly thrilled about the Holocaust as subject matter.

    • June 8, 2010 10:13 am

      I really can’t imagine living in a place that doesn’t speak English. When I read how Cate is coping, and then thinking about how there is limited access to English books…. It boggles my mind, how brave you are.

      NEXT FRIDAY????

      Wow. That is coming fast! I am so excited for you! Woot, woot, woot!!

      Have you checked out his list of books yet? They all sound so good, and deep. I hope I am a smart enough person to get through them!

      • June 10, 2010 3:37 am

        I started to go through the list, but didn’t have the time I needed to devote to it. So have bookmarked it for later. Some of them I saw quickly that I have already read, but there were several new ones. :)

        And don’t get the wrong idea about Sweden: EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH. Seriously, everyone! (at least under the age of 70). And there is a ton of English stuff here. They don’t dub movies or TV like they do in much of Europe, so we get English there as well, and most bookstores have plenty of English books, usually at least a shelf of bestsellers (though books are expensive, in general) and the library also has lots of English books…it’s not a vast wasteland, in other words. But I’d have to go to Malmo or Lund to have the selection at the library and I just don’t get into town to do it, though I DO hit the bookstores there quite often. I guess I’m just spoiled :) But a whole giant B&N FULL of English books and not just the bestsellers? Paradise.

  2. June 8, 2010 7:27 am

    I confess: I have never read Life Of Pi. But, since I know you like it so much, I will definitely give it a try. I don’t know, it seemed too ‘fabel-ish’ at the time. But what a gift, to send books to the Canadian president…though I do wonder, how and if Presidents have much time to read anything for fun. Still, I am sure OUR President would have written him back by now! He’s classy like that.

    My love affair with books is just that – a love affair. I often wish that I was wealthy enough to buy as many books as I want, especially to give to friends. (Another reason to love the library!) Books are just precious to me. I remember Liz saying that sometimes she feels panicked that there are so many books and not enough time to read them all, and I feel that way, too. So much discovery. I love that every year, I find a new author, a new book that feels like it was written just for my enjoyment.

    (P.S. I remember reading Cam Jansen! I loved those books! And Encyclopedia Brown, too!)

    • June 8, 2010 10:22 am

      Sam, you MUST read it! You, of all people would LOVE it.


      The reason Mr. Martel chose books that were short was because of the time factor for the Prime Minister. He has a great argument in the podcast, if you listen to it. And, President Obama DID write to him. He and his daughter read Life of Pi and wrote him a quick note telling him how much they enjoyed it. (He recited the note from memory on the podcast.)

      I love books too. I tend to put them off because once I am reading one, I find it hard to do anything else. So that can be a problem. My next read is Half Broke Horses by the same author as The glass castle, whose name is escaping me at the moment. Then, I get to read Laini’s books! The two Dreamdark books! They are sitting and waiting for me. I checked those out of the library for myself :)

    • June 10, 2010 3:38 am

      I LOVED Encyclopedia Brown when I was a kid! Aaaaah good times!

  3. June 9, 2010 8:09 am

    Yes! I would love to read Half Broke Horses as well. Loved The Glass Castle, even though I still shudder about them eating sticks of margarine or butter. GOD I DON’T UNDERSTAND PEOPLE WHO DON’T FEED THEIR CHILDREN!

    And of course President Obama wrote to him! I knew he would! I really had a good time looking through the list and found several books I’d like to read…like Larry McMurty’s memoir.


  1. Another blog about nothing, oh, and books « Becoming Megsie…

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: