House of Books

So occasionally I travel to Michigan with my husband and his family to spend the 4th of July at my mother-in-law’s brother’s beach cottage.  (The true relation is a bit more complicated but unimportant in this case.)  This is generally a wonderful time for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fact that I generally get at least five days off with no responsibilities aside from occasionally feeding people.

The cottage itself is 1920s era, with wood paneling and exposed ceiling beams.  Very rustic.  It’s two stories tall with a large covered porch on the front.   There are five bedrooms but only one bathroom with a shower.  Poor planning on that one but we make do.

A wide range of activities are available, from hanging out on the beach to walking past and discussing the other cottages (L. Frank Baum had a cottage up here many years ago) to hiking the dunes to watching ships coming in and out of the channel, but my favorite is that the house is stuffed with books.  They are everywhere, some ancient and yellowing, some new that a different branch of the family brought up and forgot to take with them.

I’m sitting on the porch at the moment.  From here I can see a bookcase full of older volumes and stacks of books beneath the coffee table.  Each bedroom has books wherever they’ll go, usually piled on the exposed beams.  One of my favorite things to do is troll through the stacks to see what there is, because invariably, though I never see the books come or go, the majority of the books are different each year.  If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect the brother of having a stash of random books at home and periodically switching them out.

I’ve always lived in places where books are readily available.  Both of my parents’ houses have copious amounts of overfilled bookcases that I have been able to explore since I could read.  (Both my parents adore Dick Francis.  It is one of the few things they have in common, but my mother never let me read them when I was little.  I snuck a peek when I was eight, but I’ve never quite figured out what the fuss was about.)  But there is something very magical about being literally surrounded by books, to know that they are all at your fingertips if you so desire.

Sometimes I think I could stay here forever, but alas, real life beckons.

3 responses to this post.

  1. I have a recurring nightmare where I’m surrounded by books during an earthquake.

    Stacked to the ceiling, hardback books.



  2. For some reason, your mention of Frank L. Baum having a cottage sent me off into thinking of Thursday Next, probably because I went “OZ cottage.” The cottage sounds lovely. Did you read anything from the piles this visit?


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