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The Books We Carry

After packing, moving, and unpacking (nearly done), I vowed to myself not to buy another book, but I went to the exhibition of Hopper’s drawings at the Whitney yesterday and was so taken with his process—observing, sketching, drafting—and the beautiful paintings, that I bought a HUGE HARDBACK EDITION of Gail Levin’s biography of Hopper. It was only $15 and should have been $50. How could I resist? Fortunately, I had my backpack on wheels filled with swimming gear and a pack lunch, plenty of space for the TOME. And I love tomes. Lugging the bag up and down the subway stairs was a challenge—I carried the tome in my arms—but the book is safely home now and I’ve started it: well-written and deliciously thick, with vivid plates of Hopper’s work. (The postcards were all washed out.) When I’m done, the book will be donated to a reference shelf upstate where my artist-daughter lives and where I can always find it.

Books that have been packed, unpacked and now remain on my shelves are another matter. I had thought I’d given many away—donated, gifted, pulped—but there are still so many. So I’ve made another promise to myself: to reread every book I have carried with me. I’ve started with two slim volumes by William Maxwell who was the New Yorker fiction editor for forty years and a fine writer himself. I’d forgotten how fine, in fact. Now I am reminded. What a pleasurable experience that is.

As for the books on my Kindle, they are carried, too, of course--always and forever-- and there is a TBR list there also, but it will have to wait.
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