After years of dreaming and months of waiting, I'm finally thrilled to announce that one of the most beautiful books ever written is finally available. Everyone who comes into my library very soon hears about this treasure. The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy is the story of Prince Michael of Hungary whose country is being taken over by the Nazis during World War II.
The beauty of this book cannot be adequately expressed. Many years ago I was searching for a copy of this exquisite gem but prices were high. I was in need of a new winter coat. I bought the book instead. When I finally sat down to read it, I cried so hard because of its beauty I had to lay the book aside for a time. Finally I mustered up the determination to pick it back up. I cried again as I experienced the courageous heroism in the great and the small.
If you want to experience a living book as it was meant to be, buy this book. If you want to share with your children this historical time period played out in poignant beauty, buy this book. I'm thrilled beyond measure this captivating story is in print again for another generation to experience.
As I sit here, the snow is falling peacefully. After a relatively mild winter, we have experienced three winter storms of snow and/or ice and expecting another later this week. I don't go in ice. On top of that, we've had subzero temperatures. I have a life-threatening condition which sends me into anaphylactic shock if I'm out in cold weather. So I have been inside for 13 days now.
God is so good. He knows when we need slowing down, time to rest and reflect...and get some of those jobs done that have been looming with no time in the frenzied schedule to tackle or finish. I've been doing lots of both (even sneaking in a nap or two.) Since I can't be outside in the cold, I was inspired to do some window nature study and marvel at the creative hand of God. The cardinals, blue jays, juncos, nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers have been grateful for the feast we have provided. Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner has supplemented our observations.
One of the projects I have been trying to accomplish for a few months and was able to complete is rearranging the library. It is no small feat to shift over 17,000 books. I've also catalogued and labeled my Middle Ages and poetry sections and have begun the Renaissance/Reformation section. Thanks to a sale at Demco and a $50 coupon, I was able to invest in good quality bookends to expand my fiction area to the top of the bookcases. This gave me the equivalent of two more bookcases of space!
School continues with snowballs, sledding and snowmen doubling as P.E. Lots of reading by a cozy fire is keeping our imaginations aflame. Our current poet this term is Emily Dickinson. I leave you by sharing today's poem.
It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.
It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain,--
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.
It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil
On stump and stack and stem,--
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.
It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen,--
Then stills it's artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.
Only occasionally do I find a book that so captures my heart in its simplicity that I finish it laughing, crying and hugging my copy all at once.
When I came across a recommendation for 84, Charing Cross Road, I was intrigued and ordered a copy. It was an unassuming little thing and I admit to being doubtful. I opened it where I stood...and was transfixed. I honestly could have read it unmoved right then and there but, thankfully, life has a way of interfering and I was able to savor it over three day's time.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is simply a collection of letters between a brash New York writer and a London book store. The letters begin a few years after WWII as a result of an inconspicuous ad in the newspaper and end 20 years later. During that time relationships were forged that were to impact, not only the letter writers, but many others around them.
By the way, this book so touched Anne Bancroft that her husband bought the film rights to it for their anniversary and Anne played the starring role. I believe the movie can be watched in full on YouTube as well as hearing the entire book read.
I've long believed that books have the beautiful ability to bind together people from all walks of life...family, friends, the albeit rare shopper in the grocery line, even someone across the sea. Even during a time long ago when books were so scarce and expensive the average family could never afford one, communities would pool their money for a copy and gather together in anticipation to hear it read aloud. Imagine how that community would benefit from their common culture.
In this time of financial upheaval, books can send us on voyages to anywhere in the world and even beyond it for the mere pennies it takes to purchase it. We can travel with anyone within the sound of our voice. We laugh and cry and exchange glances across the room over favorite passages...together.
Our society is so fractured. It is a beautiful thing when we can find a common bond that ties us to those around is. Books can serve to bind our hearts together at a deep and lasting level.