I’m always dropping and breaking things. I was never a particularly graceful person, my head is always in the clouds, but lately I can’t seem to hang onto things as easily as I once did. I’m working on my upper body strength, but it hasn’t seemed to help with my hand strength.
Last month, I dropped a cup of coffee I was drinking in bed. I have a wonderful one cup coffee maker that I have by the bed. After a visit to the bathroom, I get back in the bed, drink my coffee and write in my morning book.
Scattered all around the bed and side table are books I’m currently reading. An unreasonable and abundant pile that both challenges and comforts me. It includes my library books. I dropped the coffee, it spilled on the bed and dripped down on my library copy of Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo by Janet Kaplan.
I love this book and I’ve checked it out many times from the Memphis library over the past 15 years. It was published in 1988 and is now out of print.
I dabbed it with the tissues by my bed then ran for a towel and dried it. I fanned it open. The coffee had seeped into the inner covers of the front and back were stained, as well as the outside of the pages. It had one page spread that had a drip stain, but it was still a readable copy. It already had signs of wear — underlines from other readers, some foxing, and a deteriorating binding.
When I was reading it earlier, I was looking closely at a painting, pushing the binding open, when a small metal fragment cut my hand. (I pulled out the viscous little sliver with my pliers so no one else would get cut.)
I returned it with the rest of my books, but the library wouldn’t accept it and said I would have to pay for it. It was $35., which was a strain on my limited budget. But if they had charged me for a replacement copy, it would have been a lot more. The least I’ve see it for lately is $85., since it’s an out of print book.
And they said I could keep it. So I now I own a damaged but delightful copy of a book I’ve wanted for years. I feel bad about it not being in the library collection anymore, but it was all a series of unfortunate events that led to my ownership of it. If you like biographies of artists, I highly recommend it. There’s not a lot of information on the Mexican surrealist women painters besides Frida Kahlo, and there were several whose work deserves more attention.
I love Remedios for her narrative qualities, her strange bodies and vehicles, as well as the story of her non-traditional relationships. If you can find a copy at your library, I urge you to read it. She and her friends had to flee Spain to Mexico during the rise of fascism and they never returned.
After buying my damaged book, I went to the library used and discarded bookstore. (It’s at the Memphis Central Benjamin Hooks library.) I immediately found a coffee table size book on Antoni Gaudi for $4.00.
One of the things I love about used books is that carry a little history. This one is a clean copy, with a most intriguing dedication from 1993.
If I had travel money and was able bodied, seeing the Gaudi buildings would be on my bucket list.
This a wonderfully informative and beautifully photographed book published in 1993. It’s also out of print, but there are affordable used copies, not for $4.00 for a very good edition.
I always check the children’s books in case a favorite is for sale. I didn’t find any picture books I liked, but tucked among them was this little jewel from 1998, (also out of print) introducing me to an art form that celebrates the natural shapes of stones:
It was only $3.00. It’s just the kind of quirky beautiful book that delights me. I love stones and minerals. I keep little ones in nooks around the house, on window sills, and bookshelves. I have never seen this way of displaying them, or considered the fine art of finding a naturally shaped water sculptures.
I can never be a minimalist when it comes to owning books. I do like that the public libraries hold such a treasure trove that I have access to. I also don’t have to buy or store all the books I love because the library does it for me.
But it always makes my house seem more like a home when I find beautiful books that I can own. I’m sorry I damaged the Remedios Varo book, but the outcome is that now I can refer to her paintings and story when I feel fallow and uninspired. All the books I acquired yesterday are now on a well honored inspiration shelf.
Lucky me. But I no longer keep library books by the bed.
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