Read, Read, Read! - theHumm January 2020

Read, Read, Read! - theHumm January 2020

By John Pigeau

 I confess: I own many, many books. Possibly more books than I can read in a lifetime. But I love, cherish and adore books, so I’ll never stop buying them. They bring me joy. They teach me things. They offer me comfort. They have even, I will venture, saved my life. And they ask for nothing back.

It’s not even a resolution I need to make: to continue to fill my shelves with more books in this shiny new year. I can unapologetically assure you — it will simply happen.

Recently, during the holidays, I had three good friends over for a music night (we play guitars and harmonicas, we sing with passion, we get silly; we talk and laugh with verve, letting loose for a while, forgetting our woes and worries), and one of my friends said to me, “I just noticed, Johnny, you have the same book in every room in your place.”

He would be one to notice such a thing; he’s a bestselling author. He’s won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. His books of fiction and poetry have been translated into ten languages. He’s also a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review. 

So, I said “huh,” and gave that a bit of think.

Steve was referring to the book Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and he was right. I keep a copy in my washroom, another on a night table in my bedroom, one in the kitchen prominently displayed on a shelf with other things that remind me of time spent by the lake, and one on an end table in the living room. Each is a different edition, so each has a different cover. And I love them all. 

“I love that book,” I told Steve, with not a trace of guilt. “It’s filled with gentle, fresh, clear-minded wisdom. Whenever I see a copy — at a library book sale, in a second-hand shop — I buy it. I feel compelled to. Normally, I end up giving them as gifts.”

That night, in fact, I’d given a copy to my friend Ginger, whose birthday we were celebrating; she was quite delighted by the gift. 

Earlier in the fall I’d spent ten nights on a writing retreat at a quiet, lovely, utterly charming little cottage in Wellington, Ontario — one block from the lake — and I’d given a copy of the book to my friends who owned the place as a “thank you” present. That one I’d bought new from my local indie, on a whim, just before I’d left home — what better gift for a couple who live near Lake Ontario, and love spending time in the lake and on the beach? Before I left for home, both Rebecca and Stew thanked me for the book and told me how much they’d enjoyed it. 

Giving books as a gift, I believe, is a form of genuine affection. Like a lasting hug. And what more meaningful gift than a book? 

But all this coming from me should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt — I once owned a bookshop, after all. Started it from scratch, and it’s still going strong, I’m very happy to say. I’m an author, too. I read voraciously. I’m still a bookseller at heart. And yes, maybe a bit of a book hoarder, too.

But I’ve recently learned, and quite happily so, there is a Japanese word for the practice of buying more books than you can read — tsundoku. The word “hoarder” is fairly abrasive, really. This Japanese word is rather its poetic antithesis. 

So, what’s the value of owning more books than you can read? 

In short, the value is limitless.

I’ve researched this subject to a degree, and there are many other good theories out there, but that conclusion is my own. You see, when I walk around my home and pluck a book from its spot on a shelf, it occurs to me that my apartment is like a library. Even if I don’t read all the books I own, they exist and they’re within arm’s length — and within each book is a unique story, or a series of valuable insights and lessons, and sometimes sheer poetry, when essentially the lessons are yours alone to arrive at. That I own these books reflects my wish to read them, and by extension, to feel more joy, to learn more about the world and the people around me, to take comfort in the solace of shared experiences.

I have a weakness for library book sales; I visit them at least once a week, and very rarely leave empty-handed. Second-hand bookshops too — I can’t pass one without stopping in. Normally I leave with a gem or two. I frequent my local independent bookshop, too, where they know me well, and where I spend a fair amount of my disposable income. 

I’ve also bought a lot of books there for research on a book I’m writing, a personal account of mental illness and the unexpected end of my marriage, which plunged me into a serious, almost suicidal depression and resulted in years of near-constant anxiety and agonizing grief. 

I can honestly say that a stack of books I’ve read on the subjects of grief and depression have changed my thinking, and my life, for the better. In particular, I’m thinking fondly of A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, Darkness Visible by William Styron, Levels of Life by Julian Barnes, and Camilla Gibb’s This is Happy.

When my depression was severe, these books helped me. I was reading for insight, and for answers, really. I was reading for comfort, too. And I was reading to know I was not alone. On good days, I could read fiction — which on the worst of days seemed trivial and frivolous, unrelated to me — and I enjoyed the kind, gentle people and worlds created by Anne Tyler, among others.

No one book took a bullet for me. Yet I can confidently say, a small stack of them saved my life. At the very least, they saw me through the wilderness.

I hope the book I’m working on diligently might do the same for someone else, down the line.

The truth is also this: we don’t know what books may touch us so beautifully and profoundly. Perhaps there exists a book on one of my shelves, yet unopened by me, that will offer me further joy, comfort or wisdom. Or maybe I’ve yet to bring that title home. So I’ll keep up my practice tsundoku this year. With hope, joy, curiosity and gratitude. 

Perhaps you will too. 

I wish you happy reading, and book collecting, in the new year.


Fiddle In the New Year!
- theHumm January 2020

You’re in for a real treat on Sunday, January 5, when the Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra will present their annual Little Christmas Concert. Directed by Cindy McCall, this all-ages group comprises 50+ fiddlers with guitar, percussion, penny whistle, viola, bass, cello and flute accompaniment. They will perform some of their recently perfected delightful repertoire. This enthusiastic bunch rehearses on Saturdays and Wednesdays at the Maberly Hall and hails from the rural areas close by. T......


Dale Dunning —Still Ahead of His Time - theHumm January 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

Almost twenty years ago for our May 2000 issue of theHumm I asked Dale Dunning why he was a sculptor. His answer (see the back of his Trading Card) remains the same today. There is no question that he has achieved his goal of leaving a lasting visual legacy; the good news for art lovers is that Dunning persists in adding to his legacy of sculptures that are “objects of reflection and contemplation”.

Most of his works across the intervening twenty y......


Station Theatre: 2020
Celebrating 10 Years of Entertainment
- theHumm January 2020

By — Katharine Coleman

We can’t believe that we’re here. It’s ten years since the Station Theatre finally opened its doors after ten years of preparation. In this past decade, we’ve been learning, growing and making every attempt to supply great entertainment for our audience, which has also grown over these years. 2020 will be a year-long celebration for us, with Gala Nights every second Friday of each play, where we will have a liquor license and serve appetizers. We will also encourage the audience to make the most ......


Recycling Clothing: What’s Next? - theHumm January 2020

By — Sue Evans

Almonte found its beginning through production of woolen textiles. The first woolen mill, Ramsey Woolen Cloth Manufacturing Company, was incorporated in 1851. Over a period of time mills were established on seven different sites. By the late 19th century Almonte was known as the “little Manchester” of Canada. These mills produced high quality textiles that were shipped to manufacturers that created beautiful woolen articles of clothing that wore well for many years. When it became possible to generat......


Out of Sight…Out of Murder - theHumm January 2020

By — Heddy Sorour

Perth’s Studio Theatre is determined to help you beat the post-holiday blahs with their production of Out of Sight… Out of Murder by Fred Carmichael — a comedy-thriller that’s bound to entertain. “It’s a comedy with no Trumpian overtones,” chuckles director Grey Masson.

This play has it all: blackouts, lightning, a haunted mansion, a bewildered author, and all the dicey characters of an Agatha Christie thriller… any one of whom could be a killer. The difference? The characters ......


A Little Light in the World - theHumm January 2020

By Angie Arendt

If you had dropped by our place for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat sometime this past month, chances are you would have found yourself in a “do you remember…” kind of conversation. Maybe it’s because the shorter days this time of year lend themselves to introspection. Maybe it’s our tendency to get contemplative (and sometimes a bit nostalgic) during the holidays; considering the what, why, where, when and how of things like hope, peace, joy and love. Or possibly it’s the turning o......


Creative Workshops to Beat the Winter Blues - theHumm January 2020

MERA Schoolhouse in McDonalds Corners has an exceptional lineup of Saturday classes for winter ????. In Painting Birch Trees (Jan. 18), artist Monica will provide you with ideas about background colour, texture and light. Everyone will take an original painting home (not a copy). On February 1 Reiki master Carolyn Lunn will introduce you to the meditative practice of Beginner Dot Mandala on your choice of card stock or canvas, using acrylic paints and basic tools. At the Intro to Acrylics: Sunflowers on February 15, artists Jan Griffiths and Heather Vriends will explore technique, li......


Perth Resident Receives Education Award - theHumm January 2020

Long-time timber framer and teacher Jason Gibson has been recognized for his dedication to teaching others the craft after receiving the Education award from the Canadian Association of Heritage ......


Black Tartan – No Contest! - theHumm January 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Weetabix is in a self-congratulatory mood for having praised chef Ian Carswell and his Black Tartan Restaurant some time ago (theHumm, July 2017). We are pleased to report that both have continue......


Food, Fun, Friends
Dandelion Foods’ 6th Anniversary!
- theHumm January 2020

By — Meg Pettipas

It all started in 2014 — that’s when we first opened the doors to Dandelion Foods. Owners Sharon Lazette, Michael McGarry, Meg Pettipas and Farhat Sultana joined with a common interest in local f......


On Display in 2020… - theHumm January 2020

By Miss Cellaneous

Heritage Habitats at MVTM

Opening on January 18 at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, Heritage Habitats includes four large-scale installations by Ginger Owens and......


Comedy in Calabogie - theHumm January 2020

The township of Greater Madawaska Recreation committee is proud to present the Rash Comedy Bash at the Calabogie Community Centre on Sunday, February 16. This night of comedy features award-winni......


Arts CP Call to Artists - theHumm January 2020

Arts Carleton Place (ACP) is seeking artists to participate in its Spring Fine Art Show & Sale. This year’s show will be a reviewed/juried show, predominantly showcasing wall art (oil, acryli......


Up & At ’Em! - theHumm January 2020

By Glenda Jones

Okay, my friends, it’s time to get off that couch, shed the loose sweatsuit, and at least make an attempt at activity. Up here on Carroll Side Road we’re all about being outside at least twice a ......


Read, Read, Read! - theHumm January 2020

By John Pigeau

 I confess: I own many, many books. Possibly more books than I can read in a lifetime. But I love, cherish and adore books, so I’ll never stop buying them. They bring me joy. They teach me t......