Home for me is where I keep my books.
I typed that sentence and then thought I had better make it more concise: this is a blog, after all. A blog—the truncated word “weblog” not, as I originally read it, the plural proclamation “we blog,” but a noun for the medium “web log.” Of course, I understand a “web-log” to be an online (web) record (log), but webs and logs sound to me like we’re in a forest.
I mouth the conjoined word “weB Log“ over and over again, enunciating the “b” distinctly from the “l” until the meaning dies and becomes obscure—obsolete—and the sounds bleed into each other and somehow I find that the soft “w-e” has dropped into the blend of a murky “blog.” (But that is too long of an exploration for the common reader.)
And so, in this era of extreme brevity where the “we” is omitted in blogs, I edit it down:
for me is where I keep my books are.
But you’re not the common reader, are you, Reader? You take your time reading, you savour a sentence. I suppose you came to this site because of your own love for books, your curiosity for the quirky. You came to browse slowly, I imagine, like you’re soaking up the atmosphere in an antiquarian bookstore.
Well, we can all dream.
“How do we pause,” David L. Ulin asks in his book The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, “when we must know everything in an instant?”
It occurs to me that, if you’re the bookish type, you might find home among your books, too; and if you, then perhaps others as well. And — suddenly — I need to know if I am the first person to write that sentence, and so I key in a search:
Quote by Ellen Thompson: “My home is where my books are.”
Quote by Kerstin Gier: “Home is where your books are.”.
Quote by Richard Burton: “Home is where the books are.”
These are the first three results of “about 53,800,000” (according to Google), following a row of small icons of “Images for home is where my books are.”
Apparently I am not the first — and definitely not the only — one to have written that line. I note the slight variations from my own as I read the quotes.
My [H]home is where/ever my /your /the books are.
My books. Your books. The books.
We start with the first person, slide to the second, and gradually move towards the definite article, ridding ourselves of the possessive as we go. But perhaps we need to return to the possessive, first person, and adapt the plural: our books. In doing so, we recognize a shared passion for the page.
“. . . books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind,” penned James Russell Lowell in The Round Table.
And so, we carry our predecessors with us, and encounter them in foreign places. Our books: wherever they are is home.
I hope you’ll find home here, as though you’ve stepped into a personal library with wall-to-wall-shelves, a soft rug, and a wingback chair. Sit down, relax. Stay awhile and peruse the books.
Welcome to Commonplace Book Blog: we’re in a digital forest without trees.
In as much as home is where (our, my, the …) books are, I might add that books is where home resides. This is especially true when I am in the midst of a particular book, story or sometimes essay that engages me in that place or that idea. Easy to understand when in a fictional world, but so too when exploring an academic idea in a non-fictional context. So then, when exploring an idea, we can come to inhabit the conceptual structure that holds the idea. It is then that we can elevate to another level of knowledge, satisfaction, enjoyment and or fulfillment.
My thoughts, UJ
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I like how you turned the idea inside-out, or rather, outside-in! 🙂
A lot of the nonfiction pieces I read these days are personal essays. And so while they’re not fashioned in the same way as fiction, there is still fashioning that’s taking place: taking a real life experience / thought / image and transforming and translating that into art. In this way, I can very easily see how “home” resides in the essays I read. Interesting to think, then, about how this can also be true for academic ideas. I like your idea of encountering “home” also in academic reading – (am I reading you right here?) – “. . . we can come to inhabit the conceptual structure that holds the idea.”
It occurs to me that, as readers, perhaps we’re not just visiting a home that the writer has welcomed us into: maybe in the act of reading, we’ve also helped to create that “home.” But that’s maybe another essay entirely! 🙂
Thanks for your engaging comment!