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I Read therefore I Am

Following My Muse
Robert T. Nanninga
Surf City Times
October 25, 2003


I heart books…always have...always will. I also heart the Friends of the Encinitas Library (The Friends). Dedicated to the idea of literacy, these community members are improving library services for the people of Encinitas through advocacy and fundraising. Understanding that libraries must grow and change in step with growing and changing populations, The Friends have been leading efforts to expand library services and plan the new civic library. They also hold rockin' book sales.

This year the fall sale was held on a sunny autumn morning, perfect in every sense of the word. Ideal for breakfast at Mozy's, and time spent rummaging through homeless books in a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean, my morning was decided. I dig book sales because you never know what treasure you are going to uncover amidst the romance novels and self-help books. I am never disappointed.

Upon arriving at a given book sale, I head to the reference section. I'm not sure why that is, but it seems to make sense, so it is still part of the ritual. Next it's over to the theatre section. I'm always looking for old plays, paperback Shakespeare, Greek tragedies, and such. For working actors, a diverse, on hand, library can make or break an audition. Then it's on to the nature and science section. This is where I spend the majority of my time and money when contributing to The Friend's on going book recycling program.

The treasure I found at the recent book sale, was placed there for me by Polyhymnia, the muse of writers, to allow me the opportunity of discovering a book written more than a century ago by an American author, editor, critic, and the first secretary of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, Hamilton Wright Mabie.

Nature and Culture, written in 1896, is a collection of essays regarding how connection with nature, or lack thereof, shapes art and culture. A subsequent web search informed me Mr. Mabie was a key thinker of the at the turning of the last century, who is often quoted, and whose merits and contributions to literature and literary discourse are still debated.

Books the ultimate time machine. Can you dig it?

So there I was books in hand, clutching my century old treasure like the gift it was, hoping nobody was going to say, "Oh, I'm sorry that price tag is suppose to read fifty dollars, not five." I also found a first edition collection of Dorothy Parker essays, a biography of Dian Fossey by Farley Mowat, and additions to my Time/Life Nature series collection. As I approached the volunteer taking the money, the box of books I carried was made light by the joy of a successful foraging expedition made possible by the Friends of the Encinitas Library.

And please, when I see you at the next book sale, no pushing and shoving. It is so uncivilized.

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