Despite the fact that we have an ever-shifting eternal library of humanity below us in our bookshop, my husband and I keep a few books in our personal space on the second floor.

Yesterday I had occasion to sit down for a few minutes and pick up two of the tomes that have graced the coffee tables in every house we’ve owned. One is called In the Company of Bears by Curtiss; the other, In Every Tiny Grain of Sand by Lindbergh.

bearsBears is a beautiful, tall book featuring wonderfully whimsical illustrations that make you look twice on every page. Clouds are bear-shaped; overstuffed armchairs have bear bodies in the upholstery pattern. And the words are just sweet: “When you’re sad you can sing the saddest songs/When you’re mad you can beat on the Chinese gongs.” It’s the kind of  book that lets you crawl inside its pages and get your childhood back for ten minutes.

Sand is also ostensibly a book for children – no psychoanalysis please – but it’s a collection of prayers from many franchises of faith, charmingly illustrated on themes of light, dark, home, and family. Lindbergh does some lovely rewrites of famous Psalms into verse, and the Celtic prayers include “Deep Peace,” which Jack and I used at our wedding, yet my favorite in the whole book remains a tiny little prayer in a bottom right corner, by G.K. Chesterton: “The snail does the holy/ Will of God slowly.”grain of sand

Maybe that’s why I love these books in the first place. They are “slow down, regroup, relax, say a prayer and have a cup of tea” books. In a world frenzied with helping other people slow down and enjoy books, these are the ones that remind me to stop and enjoy the moments of giving enjoyment. Sip ‘n smile.

That snail isn’t going any place quickly, but he is getting somewhere.


  1. Those both sound wonderful. I used to teach pre-school and one of my favorite aspects of the job was permission to spend lots of time in the children’s section of libraries. Love books aimed at kids and the kid in all of us!

  2. And I always say a good book is a good book, regardless of intended audience. I do not own a bookstore, I have no access to children in any way — and I gave up making up excuses for liking kidlit ‘way back when I suddenly realized I no longer had to prove I was all grown-up now! [laughs … and adds a copy of In the Company of Bears to the Amazon shopping basket]

    (Note: I trusted your recommendation of Andrew Matthew’s book, Cat Song, and was very right to do so; I suspect I’ll be right this time, too. Thank you.)

      • I don’t have a car, so, yeah, Amazon. *But*, since this book’s OP, it’s actually on order from a used book store. (I normally check both Amazon and ABEBooks.) I get a chance at a real indie bookstore (new books) twice a year, though, and come prepared with a large tote bag. Forgiven?

        But, yeah, shoulda checked: the implication was you had the book, the inference is it was for sale. Do you also do mail-order?

      • No no, just giving you a hard time. We don’t have it here; the only copy is mine. And we know you support indies when possible!

  3. Indies and used / antiquarian bookstores and dealers — the “OP” might already have suggested that. (A few decades back, I used to type OP lists for a store up in Baltimore — I liked typing, the employee loathed typing, I ended up being paid with books … at employee discount. Win-WIN!) Of course you were ribbing me, but, even so, “Amazon” isn’t a name one uses blithely in the presence of *real* bookstore people! (^_^)

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