Kathie Giorgio’s fourth book, a novel called Rise From The River, released this spring. Her third book, the novel Learning To Tell (A Life)Time (2013) debuted at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books to a standing room only crowd. Her first novel, The Home For Wayward Clocks (2011), received the Outstanding Achievement award from the Wisconsin Library Association and was nominated for the Paterson Fiction Award. Her short story collection, Enlarged Hearts (2012) was selected by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as one of the 99 Must Reads of that summer. She is the founder/director of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop. Find out more about Kathie on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
A while back, I thought to organize my home and office by making a special place for those books that piled up by my bed…by my couch…on my kitchen island…in the bathroom. I have shelves in my office, just behind my desk. One afternoon, I cleared one out and then put my waiting books there. Success! I had room for four vertical piles of books!
Well, until that filled up. Last week, I took the books that were stacking up precariously on my desk and put them in what I thought was an artful sculpture by my window. I’ve seen home decorating articles and HGTV shows with books incorporated into room design. In my office, though, it just blocked the sun.
But it’s worth it. Books are life.
Here’s a sample of what’s in my window stack and how they came to be there.
Years ago, when I was still writing fantasy, I was introduced to the art of literary fiction through Anne Tyler. The first book I read of hers was The Clock Winder. I find it to be kismet that my first published novel was called The Home For Wayward Clocks. Tyler grabbed me by the wrist and firmly tugged me onto the path of realistic stories with a lovely twist——quirky characters that are oh-so-human. In all of Tyler’s books, she toes a careful tightrope. Her characters are real, but different, unusual, but believable, not so out there as to be impossible. They’re people we’d like to meet on the street, but maybe not have in our homes indefinitely. This year, I was delighted when she released a new novel, A Spool of Blue Thread. Because Tyler is who Tyler is in my life, I didn’t even read the synopsis before I bought it. As soon as it was announced, it was pre-ordered, and now it rests in my window pile.
Tyler came to me through my mother’s recommendation. But the next book, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, came to me through a movie trailer. I don’t even remember what movie I was there to see, but the trailer came on and the title alone was enough to get me. Who would go fishing for salmon in the Yemen? Just as a title will get to me, so will lines of dialogue. During the movie, the following conversation takes place:
Sheikh Muhammed: You’re not a religious man?
Dr. Alfred Jones: No. No, I’m not.
Sheikh Muhammed: But you’re a fisherman, Dr. Jones.
Dr. Alfred Jones: I’m sorry, I don’t follow.
Sheikh Muhammed: How many hours do you fish before you catch something? Dozens?
Dr. Alfred Jones: Gosh, hundreds sometimes.
Sheikh Muhammed: Is that a good use of your time for a facts-and-figures man? But you persist in the wind and the rain and the cold with such poor odds of success. Why? Because you’re a man of faith, Dr. Alfred.
And I sat forward. I thought, how many hours do writers write before they see any breath of success? And I thought, writers, ALL writers, religious or not, have to be the most faith-filled people I know. I went home and ordered the book, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, by Paul Torday. It’s in my stack. I will read it until I see what Torday actually said in the book. I can’t wait.
Right at the moment, in this window stack, there are two books by Ron McClarty, and there is another one, Art In America, on my kitchen island, as I’m currently reading it. McClarty came to me through a used bookstore. I was browsing through the clearance books and came across McClarty’s The Memory of Running, which has a stunning cover. What attracted me was not “running” in the title, but a bicycle in the cover art. I needed to know how that connected, and so the book came home with me.
The Memory of Running is one of those rare books that you carry with you everywhere so that you can read it with every spare second you have. I read it while I waited to pick up my daughter from school. I read it at stop signs. I read it as I climbed up and downstairs in my home, when I went into the bathroom, when I had two minutes between clients. Like Tyler, McClarty is a master of the quirky, but real character. The cameo appearance in this book by an artist drawing in chalk on a sidewalk in a big park in New York City is nothing short of amazing. The artist only appears on a few pages. But when she leaves, we know her entire life.
This caused me to go out and buy everything McClarty has written. As I said, I’m currently reading Art in America. In my window pile, I have Traveler and The Dropper. I may hold on to Traveler until I travel by train to Portland, Oregon this summer (44 hours on a train!). It seems fitting.
And sometimes, voices bring me to books. The last time I wrote about my Books By The Bed, I was traveling to North and South Carolina. In North Carolina, I was the featured reader for Main Street Rag Publishing Company’s Final Friday reading series. After I did my part, I sat, drank wine, and took in the words of other writers, all poets. One of those poets was Leslie M. Rupracht. At the mic, Leslie flexed her lyrical muscle and raised her voice. Her work was strong and soft, at once simple and complex. The hallmark of a poet. I was entranced.
So when her poetry collection, Splintered Memories, came out, I believe I was first in line to buy it. That voice, strong, soft, complex, simple is here on every page. An example from her poem, “Lingering”:
The palm of my hand A memory rests briefly Takes flight to the past
See what I mean? A moment of simplicity——a single memory rising up——leads to the complex——a trip to the past. Just lovely. Leslie’s book rests on my window stack now, but will soon move to my bedside table, so I can read some of her poetry every night before I go to bed. That voice will lull me to sleep, but lead me to dreams. Simple to complex.
It’s so hard to say what draws someone to a book. Covers, movies, voices, history. All I know is I keep getting drawn. My shelf behind my desk isn’t going to suffice. The window stack will grow larger. If I hope to have any sun at all, I’d better build a wall.
What draws you to books? Any of Kathie’s lures, or something unique to your literary tastes?