a wandering woman writes

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Meaning of it all -- and my bookshelf

Some people say, "How can you live without knowing?" I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know.

Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist), The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist

A last minute day trip to El Corte Ingles in Madrid last week didn't yield the perfect outfit for the super-wedding I attended Saturday. Even so, it did prove that Madrid is an easy daytrip by train. And I returned to Salamanca with a good supply of all those things one's mother usually gives at Christmas and 3 new tenants for my overcrowded bookshelves.

I love the small independent bookstores in Salamanca, especially Victor Jara and Cervantes. But oh! there is nothing like a rainy afternoon spent browsing the bargain tables in El Corte Ingles or the Casa del Libro in Madrid.

This trip I picked up:

El Placer de Descubrir: a translated collection of Richard Feynman essays and interviews. Feynman is a lost long love from my scientist days: a bongo-playing, ant-watching (Nobel-winning) theoretical physicist who wrote and spoke from the cuff about anything and everything.

An 800 page guide to "select" Spanish pueblos. 800 pages!! Yippee, I say, although far I've only frustrated myself trying to figure out how to catch a bus to Madrigal de la Altas Torres, birthplace of Isabel I. This book will either deliver great blog posts or torture me about my lack of a car.

A mere 400 page history of Spanish monarchs from the Middles Ages to the present. I'm tired of missing monarch references and scratching my head to remember who's who. I'm hoping it will be a good companion as I wander the castles and convents of the 800 pages of pueblos.

Other than the guide to pueblos, these new acquisitions will squeeze their way onto shelves and wait their turns behind a Freya Stark (A Winter in Arabia) I picked up in Hay-on-Wye, Paul Hyland's Backwards out of the Big World, the history of jazz in Spain my coworkers gave me as a going away gift, Ian Gibson's biography of Antonio Machado and Ghosts of Spain, recommended by Alex.

Whatever you do, favorite bloggers, please don't recommend books for a while...



  • Richard Feynman´s book seems so interesting! You will have to tell me all the anecdotes!

    By Blogger Nomadita, at 10:00 PM  

  • Especially not Cees Nooteboom "Roads to Santiago"!!

    By Anonymous Daniel, at 12:11 PM  

  • Yes, nomadita. Plus I'm thinking I'll bring you one of his books in English back from my stashed library in my mother's basement..

    Daniel, you solved my book dilemma today! I haven't jumped into a new book because none of the books in line is calling me at the moment. ;) So, I read your comment, remembered Cees, and got to the Salamanca library just before it closed for lunch. I left with my next read, just what I was looking for.....Cees, in Spanish - El Desvio a Santiago. An accidental wandering pilgrimage by a poet, THAT'S what I was looking for....
    thank you, daniel!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:29 PM  

  • In Spanish! I admire your fortitude. In return please let me know who is your Spanish teacher, they must be brilliant. Or maybe its you!
    For me, its the back page of El Pais.

    By Anonymous Daniel, at 10:41 PM  

  • LOL, apart from this blog and English speaking friends who live outside Spain, daniel, I live my life in Spanish and have been for 3 years; I have a slight advantage on you! I always read translations in Spanish (I have this things about original languages - English books - in English, Spanish books and anything I can't read as it was originally written - in Spanish.)

    But you'd have to thank an awful lot of teachers -- I started studying in 2001. Just keep at it, it sneaks up and surprises you after a few years.

    My struggle now is physiological. I am determined to beat the SPanish r's and lose all I can of my accent. Not easy for an American! (Heard our Midwestern r's lately?)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:49 PM  

  • "I haven't jumped into a new book because none of the books in line is calling me at the moment. ;)"

    I like the idea of having a book choose you! I recently spent five days walking the Camino - do you recommend "Roads to Santiago". I can't wait to go back and walk the entire Camino, but for now will have to settle with reading about it!

    By Blogger Mark K, at 9:12 PM  

  • Hi Mark!

    How's life back in the States?
    I started the Noteboom book last night and I love it. He writes beautifully, lovely poetic prose, and he gets as caught up in history and tradition and people as I do. I think daniel's read the entire book in English, maybe he'll come back and comment..but based on 2 chapters I say...find it!!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:53 PM  

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