A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Books In My Life (1)

Inspired by recent posts from blogfriends George and Ruth, I'm revealing today my own personal workspace. This is my study/music room/dream factory.

You can see my new iMac, my steel string guitar and my Roland keyboard and amp. On the right is the desk my son Nick often uses. Can you spot the Camino 'magnets' on his PC tower? On the window sill to the left is a wood-turned stupa (there's another one out of sight) and in the middle of the sill two halves of a coquille shell - though you can barely make them out. One of my two buddhas sits on the second bookshelf down.

Next to my desk there's a shelf full of wildlife identification guides. I refer to these constantly. My most treasured possession here is Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey's Birds Britannica - the big, orange hardback on the right. 

And below is a collection of books on myth and mythology, religion and pilgrimage. Here you'll find On Pilgrimage by Jennifer Lash, A History Of God and Through The Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong, The Imitation Of Christ by Thomas À Kempis, George Steiner's Real Presences, Dark Night Of The Soul by St John Of The Cross, The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying, Bulfinch's Mythology, Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough and those classics by Robert Graves, The Greek Myths and The White Goddess


George said...

Oh, this is going to be fun! I'm so glad that you have invited us into your study/music room/dream factory. As always, I'm struck by the similarities in our interests. We obviously share an interest in many of the same writers, but there are also other similarities. Until just a few years ago, I also owned a Roland keyboard and a steel string (12-string) guitar.

With all of the nature guides, I can now see why you are so skilled in the identification of flora and fauna. I have quite a few nature identification guides, but, unfortunately, I have yet to master their contents.

For obvious reasons, the two books that my eyes keep returning to are "Pilgrimages" and "Sacred Tracks." I plan to check these out through Amazon.

Thanks, Robert. I look forward to browsing the remaing shelves.

Susan Scheid said...

There is no better form of traveling than along someone's shelves of books. How lovely that you chose to share this!

Jenny Woolf said...

I'm very impressed and how neat tidy and well organised this is. If I were to look through my books I wouldn't find any on religion, although I have read plenty.

Timecheck said...

Thanks for sharing with us. I see a sign of a disciplined mind. What is that yellow thing on the window ledge?

Dominic Rivron said...

Those Observer books on birds and insects look ancient and well-used.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Other peoples bookshelves are fascinating Robert - yours are so tidy - I fear mine, which spread over three rooms, are higgledy-piggledy - I shall now go and tidy them up.

Any chance of Rhoda's address so that I can send her a christmas card please. If you don't have my e mail address you probably have Doms so could send it there.

Ruth said...

Music and books, wonderful! How did I not know you played? With all the music you post, I should have asked.

I am quite envious of your (and George’s too) iMac. I had to look up stupa. And I am glad you brought a coquille shell back from your camino.

There is something poetically very lovely about your naturalist guides residing on the shelf above the spiritual books. The earth and her bounty in balance and nurturance with the spirit’s journey with soul.

Thank you for this sweet look into your private haven!

Friko said...

Nature ad mysticism, we share a lot of these books. One of these days I'll have to collect a few piles of them from around the rooms and share them here.

Hi, Robert, good to know you.

am said...


Thank you for this first in a new series. Interesting brickwork and little window near your desk. Books are colorful and enchanting, aren't they? Good light and energy in that room.

Because I live alone (except for my cat, Oboe) in a small space, the whole place is my work/dream/study area. I have bookshelves in the living room, the hallway and in my bedroom.

I'm inspired by seeing where people do their creative work and by seeing bookshelves of beloved books. I have a recollection of seeing a photo of Thomas Merton's hermitage. The image of his bookshelves has stayed in my mind.

fireweed said...

Oooh! You're doing it too? Who came up with this great idea to visit bookshelves without having to visit each others homes? That looks like a fun room . . . is that really a window to the left of the computer monitor? I didn't know Maybe did bird books. I have his field guide to herbs, which is quite good despite the most obnoxious title: "The New Age Herbalist."

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for taking the time to take a peek into my 'inner sanctum' world, George! Now not so private. And why should it be? Hell, all our blogging activities are pleas for exposure, for recognition that we exist - as ourselves, no more, no less. Re. the nature guides: I fear I'm not much of an expert, my friend. A dilettante, always.

Susan and Jenny: thanks for visiting!

Ralph (Timecheck): it's a representation of a stupa, a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics. The top come off and you can put whatever you like inside - offerings, keepsakes, totems...

Yes, well used, Dominic!

Pat (Weaver of Grass): Bet you didn't tidy them up! Why should you..? Email sent.

Ruth: I used to play inadequate but enjoyable rock keyboard in a local band many moons ago. The coquilles were not actually brought back from camino trekking, but bought, rather mundanely, full of delicious seafood from Marks & Spencer! Thanks for your lovely comment.

Friko: You must do that! I, for one, would be hanging on every title. And good to know you too.

Am: The study is an add-on to our old Edwardian house. Hence the brickwork and the window - these used to be the outside wall. We too have books in most every other room! Well, books just accumulate, don't they?

And Fireweed: Don't know who started this trend, but it's obviously addictive. Loved your own recent post. And about that window: see my previous comment! Now it looks out onto a long larder chock-full of... well, crap, really. Mabey was too ill with a nervous breakdown when that 'Birds Britannica' book was put together, so most of it was compiled by Mark Cocker with Mabey as inspiration. Check out Mabey's superb, definitive 'Flora Britannica', though - a classic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Robert, a real privilege for you to share this. And good to see the books we share and the ones I want to read,


Grace said...

I always look at people's bookshelves . . . I'm nosy like that. So thanks for letting me look into your study/music room/dream factory. I may steal this idea and post my shelves.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for visiting, Andy (pilgrimpace) and Grace!

fireweed said...

The window looked liked it might overlook . . . I don't know a dungeon, or the minions on the factory floor. It looked quite exciting, too bad it overlooks a pantry full of junk.

I'm going to look for 'Flora Britannica.' I also have Mabey's 'Food for Free' which was my foraging bible when I lived in England. It's a very beautiful book.

The Solitary Walker said...

The pantry is a bit dungeon-like, fireweed. How did you know? Needs a good sorting out and a lick of paint. However, the spiders enjoy it in there.

'Food for Free' is a fab book.

swiss said...

so tidy! but i too share that looking at bookshelves habit!

The Solitary Walker said...

thanks for you comment, swiss!