Monday, December 26, 2005

Jung, etc.

Today I'm reading Jung's The Stages of Life to get ready for my Great Books book club that meets tomorrow night (we meet monthly). Jungian psychology has always appealed to me, so I'm looking forward to the discussion.

I also started James P. Carse's Breakfast at the Victory: The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience. I discovered Carse in the wonderful book The Way to Compassion: Survival Strategies for a World in Crisis, edited by Martin Rowe, which provides brief interviews with various individuals on vegetarianism, environmentalism, animal advocacy, and other religious and ethical topics.

I'm still continuing with The Historian. I think I have less than 200 pages to go now. The story seems to be picking up the pace. Some reviews have criticized the book for being too long. The language is simply beautiful, but it does seem a bit long to me also. Two fellow librarians loved the book and would never throw this criticism at it.

Soon I must put the reading aside for a few days and concentrate on writing or I will not meet my goals for the holiday break. I still have one week off and hope to complete two chapters of the book I'm writing and have outlines for three others.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Small Press Distribution

Last night I unexpectedly found the Spring 2006 catalog for Small Press Distribution (SPD) in my mailbox. I had forgotten about this wonderful place that I came across one day while walking in Berkeley. The catalog is full of interesting titles. One that I've been meaning to purchase is Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan. This volume is wonderfully large at over 600 pages and includes 70 new, never-before-published poems. I completed June Jordan's women's studies course at Berkeley, titled "Coming into the World Female," in 1993. She was the most amazing teacher and a true inspiration. I often reflect on certain moments and can still hear her original laugh.

Well, time to go back to perusing the SPD catalog some more...

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Little Locksmith

I highly recommend Katharine Butler Hathaway's The Little Locksmith. This book, originally published in 1943 and a bestseller at that time, sadly fell out-of-print and disappeared. Fortunately, The Feminist Press republished the book in 2000. Hathaway's memoir begins in 1895. The book provides an amazing story of a disabled woman who found spiritual fulfillment and independence through the purchase of her own home, truly a remarkable endeavor for a woman of her era. It is very much the story of a romance between a woman and a house, but it is also so much more, including an examination of a writer's life.

Little has been written about Hathaway's memoir, which I find disheartening. I have the beginnings of a draft essay where I discuss Hathaway along with other women's memoirs that center around houses. Although houses have also been places of imprisonment for women who were not allowed to do much else, for some women, a house is a welcome refuge and a place for spiritual development. I have found this particularly true for single women, artists, or, as in Alix Kates Shulman's Drinking the Rain, women going through divorce. I hope, if I can find the time someday, to complete my draft and seek publication. In the meantime, I will just spread the word about this most remarkable book.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Historian

I'm getting ready to perform my annual ritual of creating a list of all the books read for the past year. Will I finish The Historian in time (currently on page 253 of 642)? This book is rich in library settings. Some passages related to library as place that I particularly like:

"My favorite bench in the nave of the old university library was still being warmed by the last sun of a spring afternoon. Around me three or four students read or talked in low voices, and I felt the familiar calm of that scholar's haven soak through my bones. The great hall of the library was pierced by colored windows, some of which looked into its reading rooms and cloisterlike corridors and courtyards, so that I could see people moving around inside or outside, or studying at big oak tables." (p. 49)

"...I read Dracula sitting in a slippery chair by a library window. If I peered outside, I could see one of my favorite canals, the Singel, with its flower market, and people buying snacks from a little stand. It was a wonderfully secluded spot, and the back of a bookshelf sheltered me from the other readers in the room." (p. 55)

"The circulation desk stood where the altar would have in a real cathedral, under a mural of Our Lady - of Knowledge, presumably - in sky blue robes, her arms full of heavenly tomes. Checking out a book there had all the sanctity of taking communion." (p. 115)