Book Breadcrumbs

There is no frigate like a book / To take us lands away

Emily Dickinson

Breadcrumbs! I love following breadcrumbs left by my favorite authors.

I can’t tell you how many excellent books I’ve read because of Susan Howe mentioning them in her work.

Reading Evelyn Underhill (and who knows how I found my way to her), I’m finding paths back to Dante, to Whitman, to whoever the Quietists were. I just got done reading Miguel de Molinos and Madame Guyon because of Underhill—a couple excellent reads if you’re into mysticism.

I love coming across a name, a movement, a particular piece of writing and then going off to find them for myself. There’re these great chains of people who love to read, to learn, to share experience and wisdom, and I get to take part in their knowledge just by having a library card and taking a few minutes to explore and request their books.

I’m lucky enough to live in a town with a library that is connected to other libraries in the region. My particular stacks don’t have a lot of the contemporary poetry or the mysticism that I’m most interested in, but other libraries do. It might take a few weeks, but those fresh, vibrant and human objects make their way into my hands eventually.

The finds aren’t always a success. I’m still not sure what I’m doing with T. Merton. I guess it’s that some things about him make sense. But he’s nothing like Underhill, who I plan to permanently welcome into my home.

There’s this great joy in finding a new author, a new figure, a new idea which really works for me that makes all of the nonsense and noise of the world fade into background static. It’s like making a new friend without needing to imbibe social lubricant or walk out the front door. What a world, this world of books!

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