Monday, August 07, 2006

Reading in Colorado

I made it to the Tattered Cover at last, Denver's LoDo branch - the bookstore has wonderful outreach through its books newspaper. A fine bookstore it is too, though my visit was on an unusual day. Masking tape snaked a line round the ground floor and the floor above it, all around the shelves, and people waited patiently to be assigned a number. 600 people, Al Gore's latest book in hand, all waiting for him to come and sign it. It was good to see such enthusiasm, lots of pockets of hot environmental talk going on.
I came away with Martin Moran's The Tricky Part. Curiously this is about his upbringing in Denver. Michael Cunnungham praises it highly - and this morning I finished Cunningham's own Specimen Days - a wonderful, rich, moving book, the end of which takes place in a dystopian Denver.
It's odd how Denver has just filtered naturally into my reading while I'm here. Cunningham's book pays homage to Whitman and his poetry, sneaking it into my consciousness through the voices of his characters. A man of the century before last, Whitman still lives and speaks to us.
I come to fresh appreciation of the wonder of books. Before breakfast I read the opening chapter of J.S.Haldane's The Sciences and Philosophy. He delivered this as a series of Gifford lectures in Edinburgh in the 1920s. I've had it for some time and still it wasn't my time to read it. Today it was. Books have enormous patience, waiting for their readers to mature into the moment. Taken as a lecture it would have lost me very quickly. On the page I could take it line by line, pause and return wherever necessary.
I spent the morning in the 1905 Carnegie library in Colorado Springs (pictured, now specializing in local history archives and newly restored), doing some more Haldane research. Carnegie gifted the library to the town - and was incidentally a Scottish Neighbour of Haldane, whose sister Elizabeth was on Carnegie's first library board and helped swing the man into that educative mission. 'Universities for the people' was his notion of libraries. I guess the internet is taking on some of that role - even so, I'm glad of my fresh admiration of the old-fashioned book.


Blogger Amin said...

I've just discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your posts.

This one spoke to me especially since I have always have stacks of books recently bought (average purchase is 6 books at a time) waiting to be read.

Your thought that books have patience waiting for us to mature into them sounds almost metaphysical, but that's exactly how I feel when I pick up a book. The book's very 'feel' tells me whether it's time to read it. A bit weird, but it works for me.

11:16 AM  

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