Buying Books

When I retired from the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, I became ineligible to use the statewide UW libraries’ resource-sharing service. I like poetry, memoirs, and sometimes essays and novels. My kind of literature is published by small presses, or with a small press run, something out-of-print but not out of copyright, something that has too low of expected usage for a public library to buy or keep. The kind of books that many academic libraries collect and preserve.

Since there’s still a silo between academic and public library interlibrary loan services, I have made my peace with buying the books I want. I can personalize them, underline passages, reread them whenever I like. They pile up on a counter, never needing to be returned. It feels extravagant.

Marina Tsvetaeva

I just ordered Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries 1917-1922, after reading Dark Elderberry Branch by Marina Tsvetaeva, tr. by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine. I remember finding one of Tsvetaeva’s diary entries published in a lit journal (which?) in (when?) sitting (where?) and reading how, during the revolutionary years, she lived in a house where the former occupants had chopped up the staircase for fuel. She had to climb a rope each night to get upstairs to sleep.

While I read, my Self faded away. What remained was the image, the emotion, the ability to imagine another person’s life and to cross the limits of time and place to do so.

Image: Марина Ивановна Цветаева (w:Marina Tsvetayeva), 1925 Photograph by Pyotr Ivanovich Shumov (1872-1936). This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.


One thought on “Buying Books

  1. In Seventh-Heaven, dear, thars gonnabe a HUUUUGE library on every planetso you donta gotta buy books… andwe'll RITE oemnillions×oemnillionsof em, too (we'll have eternity):Ready totrustNjesus??♡ en.gravatar.com/MatteBlk ♡Love you.Cya soon.be@peace.-GBY

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