Rise up


I had just figured out, rather naïvely, that I could buy my own books, and then almost instantly I became a prig about their condition, so much so that I wouldn’t lend them to anyone, at least not without a solemn lecture about their proper handling: no breaking the spines, no dog-earing the pages, no greasy thumbprints. At home, I had my own somewhat wobbly arrangement of brick-and-board shelves, two and then three tiers of ugly pressboard, painted brown and laddered up against the wall, my first piece of furniture. In private, I thought of those shelves with enormous pride, as something I was building, book by book, and brick by brick, and I often looked at them, vaguely satisfied, like a worker inspecting the progress of a job. I wanted the shelves to rise up and reach the ceiling, and for that to happen, all I had to do, I realized, was read.

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, Loitering: New and Collected Essays

and if you appreciated this, check out another passage from his new book below:

“I worked on each of these pieces a stupidly long time, with a determination that was fueled, in part, by vanity. I wanted the writing to live an independent life and not rely on passing opinion or the ephemeral realities of alt-weeklies and magazines to make its way in the world . Rather insufferably I thought of myself as an essayist and bristled when friends and family, in conversation, referred to my published work as “articles.” The subjects of these pieces mattered, of course, but it was important to me that the sentences alone do the convincing. What this meant in actual practice was that I often had no idea what I was doing, no plan or sense of purpose, until I started putting words on paper. I relied on my ear to a ridiculous extent, trusting that if I got the sound right— the music, the mood, the feel of things— then sense might eventually make an appearance. Sometimes sense showed up, and other times, in that tussle of trial and error at the heart of all writing, error won the day. My instinctive and entirely private ambition was to capture the conflicted mind in motion, or, to borrow a phrase from Cioran, to represent failure on the move, so leaving a certain wrongness on the page was OK by me.”




  1. Reading.
    So underrated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My daughter complained on Christmas morning: Mom, you bought me 12 books. (Yup… too many great ones to choose from!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved my home made book shelves, tilting and overflowing. Having 300 books on electronic device just isn’t the same. Neither is reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s something about one’s book collection–it’s so many things: a retreat, an armament against the world, an escape, a challenge, a sense of possibility, a new start, a familiar journey, an old friend, a life….

    Liked by 1 person

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