Monday, March 16, 2009

Quiet Lives

I am under the equivalent of a book fatwah these days. It was issued by my friend E, who wants me to participate in Goodreads, a website for book lovers. I think that the site is great but I can't seem to find the time to be there very often. And when I said this to E, she responded with the obvious accusation, "but what about your blog?"

And thus the book fatwah, whereby I cannot blog about books because if I have time to write about books, I should be over at Goodreads.

The fact is, I am a relentless reader and I literally consume books. But between my penchant for cardigan sweaters and clogs (not to mention my mom car and mom haircut), I figured maybe I should lie low about my bookishness, lest I appear to be a complete loser.

Ahem. Moving on.

But I have lately read two books that really spoke to me. So I am totally about to risk the ire of E to write about books on my blog. The people in these books linger in my mind far after the last words about them have been read. It started with Plainsong, by Kent Haruf. Conveniently, this book was a gift from E.

Plainsong is the story of a few residents in a small ranching town of Holt in eastern Colorado. These folks lead ordinary lives; lives of routine with moments of happiness and moments of sadness. The town reminded me of my years in Nebraska; so did the people. And it was the people of Plainsong, especially the kind-hearted McPherson brothers, whom I simply loved.

Usually, I value books because they take me to new places and times; places and times not routinely available to me. Neither Plainsong nor the sequel story, Eventide, took me someplace especially new. But they did remind me of the immense power of actions and the meaning that can be found in quiet lives.

The stories show that the measure of our mark in this world is in our actions; in the choices we make on a daily basis. There is a power and dignity in the quiet lives of Raymond and his brother Harold; Victoria, Maggie, Rose, and the children who populate the stories. Their story reminded me that actions do matter; that it is in the little moments of our lives that we make our lasting mark on this world.

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