When Books Happen

Yesterday morning, I had to stop by my library to pick up a copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which my son needs for school. Approximately thirty minutes later, this errand ended with me driving out of the parking lot with five additional books stacked on the passenger seat beside me.

It happened by accident.

I entered my library from the lower level, where they have thoughtfully placed a double-sided shelf of used books for sale. Proceeds benefit the library! So really, I was helping my library, like good citizens do.

The books I bought:

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. When this book came out, I remember loving every word in its title that isn’t an article or preposition. They’re all so evocative! For whatever reason, the book never made it into my “urgent” pile. When I saw it on the sale shelf, though, my itchy little fingers picked it up. I remember you, I cooed lovingly to the book.

The synopsis convinced me this book needed to come home with me, so I’m sharing it with you in full:

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. 

For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.” —> This sentence sealed it!

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher. The idea expressed in the title happens to be one that fascinates me. Being bilingual, I figured out early on that the constraints of syntax and diction play a huge role in shaping who we are and how we think. Heavy stuff, but intriguing. I didn’t know this book existed until I saw in on the same shelf as Marra’s book. It’s mine now.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by J. K. Rowling. Everyone I know who has read this book has sung its praises. Also, it was in hardcover and only $3. That’s all I have to say for myself.

Books I borrowed:

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood. This book was on display in the teen section, which I had to pass to get to the fiction section, which is where I picked up the book I actually came for (remember? The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin?). I first saw Six Impossible Things a few weeks ago and thought the story sounded interesting – a teen’s life has been upended, and he makes a list of six impossible thing to get it back on track. I passed on it because my holiday reading list was so long. My reading list is still super long, but I figure if I see a book twice, it’s meant to be? Or something?

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I’m leading a book discussion on this in a few weeks. I had planned to download it onto my Nook, but it was sitting right there in the “express” section, which is next to the checkout line. So why not, right?

Welcome home, books!
Welcome home, books!