Saturday, March 5, 2016

New Bookshelves for Departed Writers

This weekend I took the long drive into the nearest town that has more stores than our single Walmart. Five furniture stores later, I landed in the overpriced Pottery Barn and finally found what I needed: a pre-assembled half-height bookshelf. (I am deathly sick of assembling bookshelves myself - the last shelf lay in my living room half-finished for about a month.)

I immediately filled the bookshelf with the last box of books rescued from my parents' basement. I have great satisfaction in having a copy of Pat Conroy's Beach Music waiting for me out in the open now.

Pat Conroy died this week at the age of 70. Harper Lee and Umberto Eco died in February this year. Last year we lost Oliver Sacks, Jackie Collins, and Ann Rule.

Each author left behind a unique literary legacy, and they all meant something to me personally, too. Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, a murder mystery set in a library labyrinth, led me to Jorges Luis Borges, one of my favorite authors.

I once bought a paperback copy of Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me, but as at the time I lived in Seattle and was attending the University of Washington, I immediately chickened out and gave it away. Her books are read to pieces in my library, but I lack the necessary courage to pick them up at this point. Someday! (Maybe.)

I read To Kill a Mockingbird as a teenager, and feel it is overdue for a re-read. I don't plan on reading the controversial Go Set a Watchman anytime soon.

Oliver Sacks' compassionate accounts of treating patients with neurological disorders, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, made me see medicine and mental illness in a new way. His TED Talk on hallucinations is a great introduction to his work, given near the end of his life.

Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides amazed me by being a literary story that was also a page-turner - an incredibly rare combination.

Jackie Collins' American Star kept me well-entertained, and is the perfect level of fluff, which in my book is praise. It is no simple thing to write an effortlessly entertaining book. Many try, few succeed.

Rest in peace, you wonderful authors. I will cherish your works.

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