New Year’s Eve, 2014: after a marathon morning, the house grins, it’s so clean. There’s a pork roast in the oven; the juices are simmering, and I smell the rich aroma of roasting meat and onions. The Christmas tree twinkles in the living room. In the fireplace, the gas fire glows and snaps.
My boys have gone shopping; they’re heading to the mall and to the enormous hardware store. (I have insisted my husband wear his ‘This Man Not Permitted to Buy Power Tools Without a Note From His Wife’ t-shirt.) They will be gone for a good couple of hours.
It is that quiet time of the afternoon–2:30ish; I have a lovely feeling of accomplishment and ease. So I take my current book and settle in the chair next to the twinkling tree. I pull the Book Woman throw over my legs, put my feet up on the ottoman, and snuggle in. The Little Dog jumps into my lap and hunkers down. Soon she is snoring, a warm weight on my legs.
I am reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent; I am feeding my inner rebel. My son gave me the series for Christmas, and I am enjoying both the story and his thoughtfulness. I open the book, dive into Tris’s story, and let the warm, grinning house wrap itself around me. The roast simmers. The fire snaps. The dog snuffle-snores.
The words dance on the page, and my hand, holding the book, slides to my lap.
And then, in the calm and quiet, a voice booms:
PAM KIRST, COME ON DOWN!!!!
There, in front of my Christmas tree–just feet away from me–is a miniature person, maybe three feet or so tall. She has crazy red hair, big glasses, and a huge, book-reading grin. She wears a long flowing skirt that rustles; I peer closer and realize that the skirt is composed of maybe a year’s worth of New York Times Book Reviews. Her vest is embroidered with a ‘books on shelves’ motif; her sleeves are festooned with post-it notes bearing book recommendations. Some of them fly off and flutter as she bounces energetically.
She looks–why, she looks like I would look, if I were fifty pounds lighter and a whole lot more perky.
And three feet tall.
The glasses slide to the end of her nose, and she gives me an annoyed look. “Come on DOWN?” she suggests. She points to a pile of books that have materialized in front of my tree.
“Wait,” I say. “Are those MY books?”
“They are,” she confirms. “This is a New Year’s revelation: a look at your reading life to come in 2015.”
She gives me an exasperated look, stomping one foot impatiently. Post-its flutter. “I,” she says, “am your Inner Librarian.”
The air shimmers with the unspoken DUH at the end of her sentence.
I stare, not quite sure what’s expected.
“Well,” she says, “don’t you want to see? Slide down off your chair, there, and come look!”
I slip my legs out from beneath the Book Woman blanket–and from the sleeping dog, whose snoring changes, momentarily, to something like an annoyed doggy mutter. Then she rolls over on her side and resumes her watchful sleep.
I flump myself onto the floor, cross my legs, and look expectantly at the Librarian, who begins.
“Oh,” she says, fondly, and she rests her left hand on the top book in the stack, “you’ve got a wonderful reading year ahead.
“This year, you’ll complete several of the series you’ve begun and enjoyed so much, filling in the chinks and crannies of the depictions of characters you’ve come to care about. I think,” she said, looking critically at the place marker in the book on the chair, “that you’ll finish Divergent in 2014; in 2015, you’ll devour Insurgent and Allegiant. A special series–not just a story line to love, but gifted by someone you love.
“You’ll also read Outlander, which you somehow missed when you picked up Dragonfly in Amber at the library [here, she preens, just slightly] and then went on to read the rest of the series as Diana Gabaldon published them. How does she crank out so many words so quickly??? I know you wonder that along with me. But, never mind. You’ll enjoy catching up with Clare in her youth, in her first magical encounter with James Fraser.”
There’s an avid look of anticipation on my Inner Librarian’s face. “You’ll also catch up on the Louise Penny novels,” she informs me. “You’ll love finding out what happens to Inspector Gamache, and you’ll learn whether retirement suits him. And you’ll catch up with a very different kind of detective when you follow Dame Frevisse through her medieval adventures. And then there’s Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott.”
Ahh, that sounds wonderful: good stories, well-spun,–pure fun.
She reads my thoughts.
“It won’t all be fun and games, though, your reading this year,” she informs me. “You’ve got some thoughtful works to tussle with, too. Several volumes of Karen Armstrong’s work await, and you’ll need to be alert and awake for those-those are MUSCULAR reads. We’ll start you, I think,” she ruminates, “with A History of God.
“And then, you’ve decided, I know, to tackle your relationship with money. Since you’ve worked so well with Julia Cameron in the past, you’ll work with The Prosperous Heart, which encourages a healthy financial life, rolling into a rich creative life. And you’ll delve into Elaine Showalter’s A Jury of Her Peers, and read the journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery. You’ll read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.
“Theory! Personal growth! Some biography! Some literary criticism! History! Oh, it’s going to be good.”
It sounds good. It sounds ambitious. I reach for one of the books on the stack.
The little librarian smacks my hand. Her presentation, obviously, is not complete.
“You’ll ponder spiritual questions dished up with habitual humor when you read Anne Lamott’s Small Victories,” she intones. “You’ll explore your relationship with food, reading The Pollan Family Table and Simply Delicious, which is–get this,–a cookbook with commentary by a Florida Amish group.”
“Wait,” I say. “There are Amish in Florida?”
She nods smugly. “And they SWIM,” she tells me. “And some of their recipes call for CAKE MIX.”
I ponder that, briefly. (I like cake mix, myself.)
“You’ll meet new authors,” she continues smoothly. “You miss Maeve Binchey, and so you’ll check out the work of another Irish author, Patricia Scanlan. You’ll finally read Cutting for Stone, which some of your blogging buddies have characterized as THE best novel, bar none. You’ll read some Gary Shteyngart, and you’ll explore the stories of Alistair MacLeod.”
I am on my knees now, creeping stealthily toward the stack of books, but what am I thinking? This is a LIBRARIAN. I am not getting one past her.
“Little impatient, are we?” she sneers. “Can’t sit still and listen? Well, we’ll just let you discover the REST of the Books of 2015 by your own little self!”
The dog snorts loudly. She is back in my lap; I am back in my chair. There is no stack of books in front of my tree.
But each and every one of the books that little spitfire mentioned is waiting on my shelves. I will, I vow, I will read them all in 2015–and more!
And then maybe, just maybe, she’ll come back and visit. I kind of liked her, abrupt as she was.
And just in case she demands an accounting, I’ll keep a written record.