A Good Problem to Have

Joann's lovely book--30 years of research in this!

The other day was my dad’s birthday. I sent him a book, of course. Oh, and some balsa wood planes. Those are fun. I sent him Joann Mortensen’s biography of her great-great grandfather King Follett. My dad’s a retired history teacher, so he loves a good biography. And this one is.

Anyway, we were on the phone chatting, and he asked me how my house is. (He knows it’s cramped here in 1400 square feet with five kids. Most days it’s fine.) I told him there were ants all over the driveway and that I’m in desperate need of bookshelves. He said, “That’s how it should be.” Not the ants, the lack of bookshelves.

He’s absolutely right. There should always be more books than shelves. How sad would a bookshelf look if it weren’t overcrowded with some books crammed in sideways lying atop the properly shelved books? Or not stacked two layers deep with paperbacks and tiny gift books?

As a corollary, I remember hearing my dad say that his idea of hell would be not having another book to read; i.e., having read all the books on your shelf and being without something exciting literarily to look forward to.

I was raised by goodly parents. My book problem is only a drop in the ocean compared to theirs. They have floor to ceiling builtin bookshelves in one room, and books in every other room of their house. A room without books is like a body without a soul. (Someone famous said that, but I can’t remember who. Emily Dickinson?)

Anyway, on Saturday, my mother-in-law came to town on a whim, and I took her to the bookstore where several of my author friends were doing booksignings. I told her I’d like to take her in and let her choose any book she liked and that would be her mother’s day gift. She chose Joann Mortensen’s biography of King Follett, too. Coincidence? A lovely one.


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