Books on your coffee table:
— The Philosophy of the Bed, by Mary Eden & Richard Carrington
You found this book in a strange kind of thrift shop, a greenhouse beside a garden cafe, its glassy walls housing furniture and crockery, paintings and books. The book has a tattered dust jacket bearing a reproduction of Grande Odalisque, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, the woman’s long body draped over crumpled bed sheets, looking coyly over her shoulder at you. You were attracted by the idea of philosophy about beds, the place where we dream, consciously and subconsciously, where we read, where we make love, a place where we are hidden but we can truly be ourselves. You do not know what you will write in response to this book, but you are particularly drawn to the chapters titled The Commerce of Love and Some Notable Beds.
—A Cloud a Day, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney
A gift from a notable man. Again it is hardbacked, its cover illustration a dusky landscape of multicoloured clouds, inky blue near the earth’s horizon and moving through purples, oranges and yellows until it becomes a billowing cloud of luminous light. This book, dedicated to the members of The Cloud Appreciation Society, is filled with paintings and photographs and poetry, clouds that look like animals or people, cracks of lightening, foggy shores, sublime sunsets. You do not know what you will write in response to this book but there is much to learn about the skies above and the universe beyond, so there will be much to write.
—Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
Paperback, almost flimsy, its cover adorned with a marble bust of Marcus Aurelius, young and handsome with a noodle-like mass of curly hair. You heard Elizabeth Gilbert talk about this book, someone who understands about the universe and the inter-connectedness of all things, so it seems fitting that you open it up to read, Consider how quickly all things are dissolved and resolved: the bodies and substances themselves, into the matter and substance of the world: and their memories into the general age and time of the world. You do not know what you will write in response to this book, but it is likely to be both personal and universal.
—Memory: A Very Short Introduction, by Jonathan K. Foster.
Pocket-sized, its cover black except for several bands of orangey red that float like oil on water. This book is for study and curiosity. Your memory is your tool, your farm of abundant crops, but you know it cannot be trusted so you think that if you learn more about its nature you’ll be able to excavate more thoroughly, more accurately. You do not know what you will write in response to this book, but there is a chapter titled Pulling the Rabbit Out of the Hat, so you hope for some Alice-in-Wonderland-style happenings.
You will write soon, but for now you anticipate what lies within the covers on your coffee table. You hope for learning, for surprise, for enlightenment, for something you didn’t even know to hope for.
Soon, you will write.