Tuesday, January 1, 2013
A Book of Days
I have already pulled off my shelves three books that I bought in 2012 and that I have been saving to read this year.
It has been a few years since I have read daily from a 'book of days'. One year I read the daily diary entries in the anthology The Assassin's Cloak compiled by Irene and Alan Taylor. Another year it was Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. And then there was the year I started each day with a meditation from 365 Tao by Deng Ming-Dao.
This year's book is Darwin's Orchestra: An Almanac of Nature in History and the Arts (1997) by Michael Sims (author of The Story of Charlotte's Web that I so loved). It offers a daily reading of essays by Mr. Sims on such varied subjects as: January 1 - Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons; May 22 - Singing insects; September 4 - Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit; and December 19 - Doctor Doolittle.
It looks to be an entertaining and informative way to begin each day.
The second is really a 'book of months': The Shape of a Year (1967) by Jean Hersey. I bought this fine hardcover book at a used book sale last summer and instead of reading it in one big gulp, I thought I would follow month-by-month Ms. Hersey's chronicle of events in her life on her farm in Connecticut. I love reading this type of book and look forward to spending the year with Ms. Hersey, her family, her neighbors, and her gardens.
The third book is a whopper: The Art of the Personal Essay - An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present (1994) selected and with an introduction by Philip Lopate. I already owned a paperback copy of this 770-page collection. It was so unwieldy to read that I never quite got around to finishing all the wisdom it had to offer. When I found a hardcover edition at the same summer used book sale as above, I snapped it up.
I will keep this one - it is heavy - on my new desk and dip into it again and again. I can't wait to read the likes of Seneca (On Noise); Robert Louis Stevenson (An Apology for Idlers); Virginia Woolf (Street Haunting); and, M.F.K. Fisher (Once a Tramp, Always).
It is going to be a great year.