Shelf Life for May 2020

Books In Progress
How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry
Time Loops by Eric Wargo

Books Finished

Books Bought/Found/Given

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Welcome to the newest installment of Shelf Life for May 2020. Not June. May. I’m way behind on a lot of writing-related stuff. 

In the middle of June I retreated to the woods for a few days to refocus and rededicate myself to writing and reading. It worked great while I was there, but the night I came home, some baby raccoon siblings wandered out of the forest across the road from us. 

Their mother had been hit and killed by a car a few days earlier (we didn’t know she had babies at the time it happened), and they emerged one by one, weak, hungry, and looking for their mom. We took the six of them in and cared for them until space was available at a rehab shelter two-and-a-half weeks later. Six adorable fuzzballs take up a lot of time. Way more than one might expect. Certainly more than we expected.

But now the babies are in much more capable hands, and my wife and I are getting back on track with lives that were already pretty much off track due to the pandemic. For me, getting back to some semblance of routine means catching up on the blog and other writing-related activities. So here we are.

Best as I can recall, May was an inconsistent month of reading. 

I started a couple books, carried on with another I’d been working my way through, and that was about it. Two of the books (How To Be An Anti-Racist and Time Loops) are slow going for very different reasons. The first takes time because it’s a work of profound insight into how racism and racist policies work to normalize racist behavior, and it’s leading me to consider, reconsider, and re-reconsider a hell of a lot of things in my own life as a cis white male from northern Vermont. The second is a book about retropsychokinesis, time precognition, and other time-travelly stuff that requires re-reading of paragraphs and pages.

No new books were added to my collection in May. We were still firmly in stay-at-home mode due to the pandemic, and book shopping wasn’t an option. Even now, in the middle of July, I haven’t gone back to a book store yet. Yesterday was the first time we ventured out beyond our regular grocery store for shopping. It was a mixture of enjoying being somewhere different and worry about whether we should be out and about. After a couple hours away from home, we were ready to go back.

Not finishing any books and not buying any in May doesn’t leave me without anything book-related to write about, though. Hell, I’m at 500 words already and haven’t gotten to the point. Yippee!!!

One morning in mid-May, I was sitting on the enclosed front porch, doing a bit of writing. We love our front porch, but it’s never quite been the relaxing spot we wanted it to be. I looked out the window and noticed a few items placed by the road, a few houses down from us. It looked like there was an old bookcase, and I was struck by inspiration.

The porch needs books!

We walked down and took a look. The bookcase wasn’t anything special. One of those cheap pressboard deals that probably came from Ames 25 years ago. But for what it was, it was good enough. There were stickers covering one side, but we decided we’d either scrape them off or figure something else out. Now that we had the idea in our heads to have books on the porch, it needed to happen. 

We brought the bookcase home and tried to scrape the stickers off. No luck. We slathered on some Goo Gone. Nothing. We turned to options more aesthetic in nature. Alison had a roll of maroon drapery fabric that needed a purpose. We gave it one. Cleaned up and draped with some lovely cloth – Martha Stewart would be envious – it was time to fill the shelves. Fortunately, we had plenty of books for that. 

And this was the point where a quick project turned into a whole-day thing. Pulling books from the living room and den for the porch led to a full rearranging of our bookshelves. I was happier than a pig in mud.

In the end, the shelves on the porch give the space a camp-on-the-lake feel that’s exactly what we were hoping for. Alison dug out some old wooden crates that we placed on each end of the love seat that’s out there, and we filled those with some oversized editions that never quite fit anywhere else. 

I got reacquainted with books I hadn’t given much thought to in a while, and walking into the living room and den two months later is still a fresh experience thanks to the reorganization. Reorganization, by the way, that is the more organized our books have ever been. I’m not saying I’d be a great librarian or anything, but I think I’d be a pretty great librarian.

Best of all, with the addition of the porch bookcase, there’s shelf to spare. Room for more books. 

Just in case we manage to make it to a bookstore any time soon.

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