Community, Books, Movies - a Blog About All Things Library
By Eva Apelqvist
There are many things one might discuss in a library blog. Things like what is a library, who is the library here for, what does the library have to offer, what makes those of us working at the library tick, censorship (a big one), new websites or shelves or newsletters. I will start small, and with the most central thing; a great love, an obsession really, for books.
Something miraculous happens when you read several books simultaneously: The books start having a conversation in your head, sometimes about trivial things, but sometimes about the very essence of their stories.
Very recently, for example, in my head, “Lincoln in the Bardo” (by George Saunders) told Dan Rather’s “What Unites Us,” that President Lincoln could not have led his country so brilliantly through one of its most difficult periods in history, if it weren't for the fact the he allowed the spirits of "every man" to enter him (a very literal truth in the book) and be equally heard. “What Unites Us” answered that yes, indeed, respect for every man and woman, and also consideration for everybody's contributions, regardless of sex, race or creed, is essential to democracy. Then, what do you know… “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins chimed in, in audio book format no less, that history lives on inside us, and historical ills will perpetuate themselves if we don't deal with them.
“Lincoln in the Bardo” is the story of President Abraham Lincoln’s ten-year-old son Willie’s time spent in “the bardo” after his death, bardo being a Tibetan Buddhist term for the state between death and rebirth. The story is told, amazingly, in 166 voices (appearing like a choir from an old Greek tragedy), but don’t let that deter you. You quickly get in the groove and the book offers a reading experience like none other. It also leaves you with a lot of questions, like: Who was Abraham Lincoln, really? And what if we were to allow ourselves to be influenced by the voices of the past (herein personalized and parodized to a degree that it makes you laugh out loud), in the choices we make?
Dan Rather’s many years reporting news might have made him cynical and bitter, but it is obvious from his grand democracy manifesto “What Unites Us,” that he has exited that stage of his life full of love and compassion for his fellow humans, and also wisdom about what will help cure our planet (hint: democracy and compassion) from what ails it (greed and disconnect).
Then there’s Paula Hawkins’ fun crime novel, “Into the Water,” which tells the story of a long line of strong (inconvenient?) women and girls, from witches to high school students, and how the way they were treated in a small town in England through the ages influenced… well, everything.
While each of these randomly picked books were well worth reading for their own unique flavor, their proximity and crowding in my head – and the way they chatted with one another, reinforcing each other’s truths - made for a deeper, synergetic experience.