Yesterday I felt ashamed.
A good friend came for the day – to walk on the Monsal Trail and to take me out to lunch. When she comes to visit she always brings an armful of books as presents for me and for Dave.
We had a wonderful walk, despite the showers (I wish you could see the banks of ox-eye daisies on the Trail) and we talked for nigh on five hours. I told her, amongst other things, about one of my favourite books, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and urged her to read it.
When we got back to Hepworth Towers, I fetched it from the shelf so she could write down the details, and she said “Are you sure you want to lend it me?” and without thinking, I said “No, I can’t let it out of the house. I was just showing it to you.” And then immediately I felt mean and selfish, and overcome with remorse and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, I said “Yes, do borrow it.”
Being a lovely person who understands the importance of books, she immediately said “Are you sure?”
I hesitated. I knew perfectly well she would look after it. And I knew perfectly well I would get it back soon. It is just that there are some books I cannot bear to leave the house. I think it stems from when we lost 95% of our possessions in a fire, including thousands of books.
I explained this to her later, on the phone, after she’d left (and I had let her take the book.)
And being a lovely person, she said “I expect that if I’d wanted almost any other book in the house, you wouldn’t have worried.”
This is true.
But then I thought about what other books I always want close at hand, just in case, and these are they:
Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor
Homestead by Rosina Lippi
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield
and lastly and oddly – because I don’t like any other Mary Wesley book – Part of the Furniture
When I was little, I thought real life was like The Waltons. That’s probably why all but one of these books are comfort reading.