Huntington Park, one of my favorite things. © Robert C Trube
I suspect most of us have had wistful memories of all the things we didn’t give a second thought of doing pre-pandemic. Perhaps this helps explain the urgency with which some people have tried to resume life as if nothing happened, as if there is not still a risk of infection. Being at an age of being at increased risk, and some health history in our household that further enhances that risk, we’ve resigned ourselves to what looks like six to twelve more months much like the last three. We are utilizing warm weather for some visits with friends outdoors at social distances, plein air painting, walks, and visits with neighbors.
These are a few of the favorite pre-pandemic things I miss:
- Hugging family who don’t live in our house.
- The Asian buffet near our home.
- Leisurely browsing in my local bookstore.
- Going to the grocery store together.
- Going to a grocery store at any time, not “senior hours.”
- Singing with Capriccio in rehearsals and concerts. It is not only the music but the friends and the laughter.
- Coffee with a friend in a crowded Starbucks.
- An adult beverage with a work team.
- Actually meeting with a work team without a computer screen between us.
- Celebrating a special occasion with a dinner out.
- Selling the books I’ve read at Half Price books (the stack is growing).
- Going to a Columbus Clippers game at Huntington Park.
- Singing with Paul, Jeff, Jayne, Diane, and Tracy in our small acapella ensemble at church.
- Going to concerts or lectures or any event with a lot of other people.
- Seeing another’s smile and being glad I do.
I’ve not missed travel–congested roads, airports, crowded planes. I don’t look forward to going back to these. A number of the things I’ve listed above we technically could do. But from what we know, we can’t afford to get sick if we can avoid it. So we won’t do these things until infection rates are very low or there is a vaccine that works. As much as I miss these favorite things, we still have a life we love. We still have fellowship with friends and family. I can brew a pretty good cup of coffee. I can walk in my neighborhood. We can go out painting together. We talk to more neighbors than ever. I think the teams I work with have done amazing things during this time. I’ve enjoyed many good books, listened to some great music on vinyl and CD. We’ve made some good meals together and enjoyed good take out. We treasure our church’s worship times, even if online.
I’m not willing to exchange our lives for a favorite thing. I realize there are no sure things. While I do not fear death, I won’t throw away life needlessly. But I still have favorite things I miss. What are yours?
A certain TV personality is famous for the show she does each holiday season sharing her “favorite things.” For me the phrase brings back memories of Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp singing about “these are a few of my favorite thing.” That got me thinking about a few of my favorite “bookish” things.
- Attractive and durable bookmarks. My favorite is the genuine leather bookmark pictured above that a friend brought back from a trip to Italy. I use it to mark my place in the Bible I use for my daily devotional time. I’ve had it for years and it shows no sign of wear–unlike most of my bookmarks!
- Well-made books to put them in. It is always a delight to read a book with a fine paper, readable print, and elegant binding.
- Elegant shelves lining one or more walls of a library room. Mostly, this is a dream for me, and as I’ve written recently, I think I’ve reached the stage in life where the prescription is not more shelves but less books! The closest I get to this most of the time is the East Reading Room in Thompson Library at The Ohio State University.
- Attractive dust jackets or book covers. This adds to the aesthetic of reading. I would also include the spine of the book, which may stare out at me for years on my shelves.
- Bookish t-shirts. I treasure my “so many books, so little time” shirt, which might be one of my life mottoes. I could probably use a few more.
- Book weights. Something I wouldn’t spend money on but I’ve thought to be extremely useful for books that won’t lay flat on their own, particularly while I am writing reviews or copying out a quote. Usually I end up using another book or a stapler on my desk.
- Chairs that are still comfortable after you’ve been sitting for half an hour reading. I have a few in my house. My son’s middle school football coach once said, “the mind can’t absorb more than the seat can endure.” Every bibliophile totally understands.
- Knowledgeable booksellers who actually seem interested in talking with patrons. Given that many bibliophiles are introverts it’s easy to see how you can get one without the other. When you find a bookseller like this, take good care of them!
- Bookish decor. We just cleaned and re-hung our bookshelf wall-hanging in our living room. One of the “shelves” from that wall-hanging serves as the header for this blog.
- A helpful review or a book recommendation that helps you find a book you really like. Hopefully, you’ve found a few of these here (and none that were unhelpful). I even enjoy books on books and perusing book lists!
With the holidays approaching, some of these might spark some gift ideas for the bookish person in your life (although booksellers are hard to gift wrap!). And if you are that bookish person (and why else would you read this?), I’d love to know some of your favorite bookish things.