Notes on (surviving) the writing life

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House of books & dreams

painting of a woman reading

The Window Seat by William Orpen,1901

Imagine a little house—or, rather, more properly, a two-story reading room—containing thousands of books. Imagine this house on the outskirts of Killaloe, a rural village of six hundred in northern Ontario.

Amazing.

I had the pleasure of visiting “Love’s Healing Reading Room” with authors Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady last week. We quickly lost ourselves in exploring this eclectic library, books collected by Dr. George Linn over his all-too-short lifetime.

Two books that “caught my fancy” (I love that expression*) were A Cordiall Water by MFK Fisher—

—and Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book.

Treasures.


The quote below is from a blog post Merilyn Simonds wrote about the reading room, months before we visited it: 

“Over [Dr. Linn’s] lifetime, he collected 60,000 books, which he shelved in his house and in his office. When he died, all the books were shipped to a two-storey house built specifically to house them in the small village where he had planned to retire. The house is furnished with bookshelves, squishy chairs and couches, and a wood stove for winter. A sign by the perpetually unlocked front door asks readers to leave their electronic devices in the bowl by the entrance and to enjoy the books within the reading room, returning them to the shelves for the pleasure of others.”

George Linn originally grouped most of his books according to how they connected. From Merilyn’s blog post: “He believed it was more conducive to the positive power of books and reading if you could look at a book on a shelf and draw your own connections between it and the books on either side—connections within yourself and within the room.” Now the books are grouped by genre or subject—fiction, Jung (several shelves), self-help, poetry (on two walls), history, etc. Jackie Goodheart, George’s widow, imagines that this will change naturally over time, with use.The setting is bucolic, the rooms inviting with comfortable reading chairs.  I’m looking forward to going back.

* Caught my fancy: according to the wonderful Online Etymology Dictionary, the noun fancy goes back to the mid-15th century:

fantsy “inclination, liking,” contraction of fantasy. It took the older and longer word’s sense of “inclination, whim, desire.”

That describes perfectly the feeling of discovering such books.

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House of books & dreams

Imagine a little house—or, rather, more properly, a two-story reading room—containing thousands of books. Imagine this house on the outskirts of Killaloe, a rural village of six hundred in northern Ontario. Amazing. I had the pleasure of visiting "Love's Healing...

read more

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read more

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read more

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