A perfect day for Biblio Files columnist

The following was written by Biblio Files columnist Donna Liquori and published in today’s Times Union. Contact her at bibliofiles@hotmail.com. Seems like a good day for a lover of books:

6:52 a.m.: Wake up. I’m late. Today’s the big day.

7 a.m.: I down a cup of coffee and head out for a quick walk. It’s cold and rainy … the
perfect day for what I have planned. I do a mental inventory of the books I’ve stockpiled next
to my bed. I’ve planned this day as an antidote to a frantic holiday season that left me
feeling, well, wilted.

7:36 a.m.: Home. Time to banish the children and husband from the house.

8:40 a.m.: I push them out the door with lunches, kisses and absolutely no guilt

8:53 a.m.: I change back into pajamas, grab a cup of tea and ignore the stack of breakfast
dishes. I’ve got work to do.

9:01 a.m.: In bed. It’s dark enough to need a reading lamp. I spread books out on the
duvet. My hand lingers over each book, as if they can communicate. “A Thousand Years of Good
Prayers” (Random House; 2005), its cover decorated with pristine white fans, calls out. The
stories by Yiyun Li are excellent. I know this because I heard “Extra,” on NPR’s “Selected
Shorts” and I’ve read the second story. I open to the third story and dig in. It’s about

9:15 a.m.: I choose to ignore the loud boom that shakes the house. Unless the walls
collapse, I’m not moving. Usually, I steal time to read … an hour before everyone wakes up,
while kids watch television, on the elliptical trainer at the gym, waiting for my daughters’
ballet classes to end and 20 precious minutes before bed. Not today. I’ve got 6
fr 1/2 hours
of rare time blocked out for reading.

11 a.m.: I need a break. Li’s stories are mesmerizing, but heavy stuff: the Cultural
Revolution, communism and a massacre. And, of course, the poor eunuchs. I stretch and decide
to make some coffee. It’s a bit of a challenge to stay in bed all day when you’re not sick …
even with a good book. No, I’m not complaining. This is my kind of luxury; preferable to
designer clothes and spas.

11:10 a.m.: Back in bed. I dive into Li’s stories. A train whistles and the milk delivery
truck pulls into the driveway and the church bells sound announcing the noon hour. I register
these noises, but do not move. I read a line about a depressed mother who stays in bed all day
and laugh out loud, even though there’s nothing funny in “The Arrangement,” a story of a
daughter trying to cope with her place in the world and that mother.

12:34 p.m.: I shut the book. The stories are floating in my head and I need to digest them,
so I have lunch, eggs, which are perfect stay-home-in-bed food. I also throw the makings of
stew into a crock pot.

1 p.m.: I take a tray to my room and ponder what should be next. I pick up “The 2006
O’Henry Prize Stories: The Best Stories of the Year” (Anchor Books; 308 pages; $14) and open
to the first story. I plow through Edward P. Jones’ “Old Boys, Old Girls.” Jones makes me
sympathize with a killer.

1:36 p.m.: I explore the authors’ statements in the back of the book and decide on
“Wolves” by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer based on her motivation: “One snowy night, my husband
and I were in Vermont, reading. The house was very quiet and I realized that this silence was
emblematic of how drastically our lives had changed since the children left the house. At the
same time, I thought about the neighbors who had recently told me that bears, foxes, and
perhaps a wolf had been seen nearby. The silence began to interest me and I found myself
wondering if silence is, perhaps, for many people, a kind of emptiness.”

2 p.m.: Midway through “Wolves,” I notice the rain has stopped and the sun has broken

2:25 p.m.: After murder and wolves, I need Zadie Smith’s “On Beauty” (Penguin; 2005). The
book jacket states: “It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.”

Over the holidays, I didn’t read much. There were too many obligations, meals to cook,
gifts to buy. I started at least a half dozen books only to abandon them. Usually, I read one
book at a time and finish. I knew I needed to refocus and the idea of reading in bed for a day
seemed like the perfect approach. I highly recommend this.

Books, I believe, are transformative. In one day, I learn about eunuchs, the Cultural
Revolution, prison, silence and wolves. The experience moves me to tears, makes me laugh out
loud and frightens me.

3:35 p.m.: The smell of beef stew wafts up from the kitchen. It’s time to return to the
real world. My daughter’s bus will be here. Still in my pajamas, I lumber downstairs to unlock
the front door. I make another cup of coffee because I’m sluggish from spending the entire day
in bed, yet I am invigorated and refreshed. I go back upstairs, make the bed and turn off the
reading light.


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