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Possumhaw: Books 'R' Us


Shannon Bardwell



There is a man who often mails books, and when the postal clerk asks the obligatory, "Is there anything hazardous or flammable in the package?" He answers, "Yes, words." 


The gift of thoughts conveyed by words printed on vellum and bound by cardboard covers are coveted gifts at the Bardwells. Not to be divisive, but no one here owns a Kindle or Nook, or any kind of book other than the paper kind. One by one, amid brown paper wrappings, books unveiled on Christmas morn, each selected to appeal to the taste of its intended reader. 


"This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," by Ann Patchet. My fingers ran over the cover, back and front, and then opened the pages to a signed copy. The edges were rough, appealing to touch. A book of non-fiction essays by the popular fiction writer, who admits to her first love of short stories, these were compiled into a collection. 


And then, "Humans of New York." Brandon Stanton had a mission to photograph over 400 New Yorkers and get their stories. He created a blog with quotes and stories that morphed into a " ... stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York." The inscription read, "Dad, I know it's NY, but it's really about all people. The blog it's based on is really special and has some really sweet portraits and anecdotes. And the photographer is from Georgia, so it's the work of a Southerner. :) Love you, A." 


"Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health." Jo Robinson explains we do not need to forage for wild plants to regain these lost nutrients. We can choose select varieties in our local grocery stores and farmers' markets that come close to having the nutritional value of wild plants." The gift-giver said, "I know that you may not do it, but in theory you will like this book. I know I will never eat green grapes again." 


Observant, this one is. If I could only get my family to eat vegetables! Is it possible that grocery store apples could have been in cold storage for over a year? If I could only grow a good apple. 


And for the extreme dog lover, "Dog Shaming," by Pascale Lemire. "Pascale lives in Vancouver with her two 'wiener dogs' Beau and Dasha." Like many bloggers, Pascale's blog on the love-hate relationship with dogs' behavior culminated in a book of snapshots accompanied by first-person signs -- "I'm sorry I ate your flash drive (again)" 


More intellectual pursuits included the books on Dietrich Bonheoffer, by Eric Metaxas; "C.S. Lewis," by Alister E. McGrath and "The Four Agreements," by Don Miguel Ruiz. 


Lighter fare included "Friendship Cemetery," by Adele Elliott; "Beautiful Ruins," by Jess Walter; "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semples, "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," by Aimee Bender. 


My New Year's resolutions are to read more books, eat better food and be thankful I have a cat.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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