I enjoy making an attractive pile of books as I contemplate which book to read next. This particular pile is comprised of books I got for my birthday last month. Well, all except that big Harry Potter book on the bottom.
All of these are books I asked for as gifts. The top one, Draft No. 4 by John McPhee, is from my mother. She asked if she could borrow it when I’m done so she can reread it. The next two, Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle and Qigong and the Tai Chi Axis by Mimi Kuo-Deemer, are from my son. The Tolle book was recommended to me by a longtime friend; qigong as a practice was recommended to me by my physical therapist. The clerk at our local bookstore told my son this is the qigong book that sells best. The final book, Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald, I bought for myself with money my father sent me. I have loved Macdonald’s writing since I first read an essay she wrote for the New York Times’ magazine section back in March 2015. That led me to her book H Is for Hawk, which I’ve read three times, some parts of it four times. It’s that good. I did not know she had another book coming out until I read an excerpt from it in, again, the Times’ magazine section a month ago.
Now, as for that big Harry Potter on the bottom—number five in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I started rereading the Potter series about a year ago when I was in the mood for a fun and easy book. I read the first two, surprised at how much I didn’t remember from them because the movies are much clearer in my mind. I stopped reading at two; but by midsummer this year, I was again casting around for something easy and fun to read. It had been a long, long winter and spring. So, I plucked the third book from my son’s shelf. Of course, the books become a little less fun and quite a bit darker as they go along, and consequently it’s harder to stop at just one or two. I read another book before going on to book four, which I finished a few days ago. I then contemplated this attractive collection of birthday books—and grabbed Order of the Phoenix. I’ll only read until the beginning of the new Hogwarts school year, I’ve told myself. Then I will start at the top of my pile of books with John McPhee. Or perhaps dip into the qigong book, or the Tolle.
Whichever way I approach them, it’s a fine pile of books.