This was my desk early this morning when I sat down to do my book order. I had to balance my laptop on a pile. It looks a little better tonight but mostly the piles have been distributed to other parts of my home office. Today was my designated dig out day, it may turn into more of a dig out week.
I attended the American Bookseller Association’s Winter Institute in Denver on a scholarship last week. I almost went last year and am so glad it did not work out. I was so not ready last year. Even now, it was like drinking from a firehose. I made good connections, learned so much and have actionable next steps. I brought (sent) home many advanced reading copies and bookish tote bags. Such fun. I love getting away from my daily life for a bit but after four days away I was more than ready to come home.
Anna came for a long weekend the day after I came home from Denver. We had planned many months ago to see Geraldine Brooks at Seattle Arts and Lectures. Such a great, inspiring talk. If you haven’t read any of Brooks’ novels, start with March (my favorite) or Year of Wonders (Anna’s favorite). We spent the rest of the weekend at the shop and stopping by the Bread Peddler. We also made my current favorite recipe (it’s delicious – I used boneless chicken thighs and cut off 10 minutes on the oven time) on Saturday night and invited Sherry over. Anna is one of my dearest ones and so anything we do is comfortable and fun. If you are wondering what we were doing in the photograph, of course we had to try on the kitchen goggles we found at my local grocery store.
Cate had an early release on Friday and stopped by the store with Telfer for a bit. She organized the coloring books and then draped her striped self on a chair to read a bit of comics. No one can rock a striped outfit like Cate (three stripes and red boots!).
2016 is starting off ridiculously well in terms of reading and books. First, there was my Kent Haruf moment, then When Breath Becomes Air. I picked up a signed copy of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel at the Tattered Cover, Denver’s famous independent bookstore and read about half of it on the plane home until I made myself stop (so good I didn’t want to read in one sitting). The opening paragraph page brought immediate tears of recognition:
There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks. This was in New York City, and at night a view of the Chrysler Building, with its geometric brilliance of lights, was directly visible from my bed…It was May, and then June, and I remember how I would stand and look out the window at the sidewalk below and watch the young women – my age – in their spring clothes, out on their lunch breaks; I could see their heads moving in conversation, their blouses rippling in the breeze. I thought how when I got out of the hospital I would never again walk down the sidewalk without giving thanks for being one of those people, and for many years I did that – I would remember the view from the hospital window and be glad for the sidewalk I was walking on.
I know something about this.
But the novel is much bigger than a hospital stay. It’s about never really escaping from childhood, about memory and writing and motherhood. I finished it days ago and can’t quite put it on a shelf. I loved it so.