Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Simple Abundance

"Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world."
~ Virginia Woolf in her essay, Street Haunting

Virginia Woolf was right.  She believed that the "perfect treat must include a visit to the second-hand bookshop", and so does the author of the book I'm currently reading, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joyby Sarah Ban Breathnach. Aptly, I found this book at a second-hand shop, a thrift store with a room brimming full of a wide assortment of books of all ages, some old, some new, and some in-between. I try to visit this shop about once a month, and more often than not, leave feeling quite fortunate, as I find numerous books, some rare, some signed, and others that I've simply wanted to read. As so often is the case, I'd been thinking about how much I have to be thankful for when I pulled this thick book from the shelf. (Did my thoughts lead me to the perfect book for my state of mind?) At any rate, I opened it up, skimmed a couple of pages, and quickly decided to purchase it (for the ridiculously low price of $1.00). The woman who rang up my purchase seemed to smile knowingly at me (had she read the book, or heard about it on Oprah?) and gave me a cloth tote bag to carry my loot home in.

Published in 1995, each day of the year corresponds to an essay which begins with a related quotation. Now, if you don't like quotations by people such as authors, then you might not enjoy this book.  But I enjoy a good quotation. Here's a sampling of quotations from Simple Abundance, related to writing and books, for those of you who do enjoy reading them.

"I will write myself into well-being."
~ Nancy Mair

"We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become."
~ Ursula K. LeGuin

"We are the hero of our own story."
~ Mary McCarthy

These are not stereotypical, boring essays; they're entertaining, funny, and thoughtful words recorded by a "diligent wordsmith".   Many days or pages are devoted to books, and to writing and other creative pursuits, which I read with extra anticipation. These essays, or meditations as they are called, with titles such as The Comfort Found in Good Old Books and A Nook of Your Own, 366 in all, are full of insights and questions.  Although I do not approach this book with reckless abandon, I do break a few rules.  Because the year 1995 has already passed, I feel free to read as many pages as I want to at a sitting rather than one per calendar day, and to jump around a bit, too.   It is such a pleasure to go to my reading couch with this book and a cup of tea, and get lost in the pages.  (The icing on the cake is when my dog joins me, her quiet presence yet another gift to be grateful for.)  Again, I feel as if this is the book I'm supposed to be reading at this point in my life; it's been a source of inspiration and pleasure.  After a session with Simple Abundance, I feel renewed.

Your comments are welcomed.


  1. I love this book! It's where I first discovered the idea of keeping a gratitude journal. I'd like to find a used copy of it myself.

  2. I also have this book. I bought it years ago and regularly pull it out to puruse through it again. Peaceful and thoughtful.

  3. Reading this book elevates my mood. It focuses my attention on abundance and all I have to be grateful for. Thanks, Christie and Tami, for contributing your comments.


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