Gifts from Opening Books at Random: Bibliosophia? Bibliotherapy? Bibliomancy?

Every day when we walk in the park across the way, we make sure to stop at the Little Free Library, a little glass-doored house on a pole that holds books free-for-the-taking, stocked by the local library, school and residents. Time and again we find ourselves opening a book then-and-there to find a kernel of something just right: an image, a bit of writing, a poem, an unexpected gift read en plein air.

Alexis Arnold

Alexis Arnold

‘Bibliomancy’ is what Editor-at-Large David Saltman calls the practice of opening a book at random and finding just what you need or resonates with the moment. But the suffix —mancy to us implies divination. It’s more illumination and just-rightness we find. We wondering if it is BIBLIOSOPHIA that we practice? Or a kind of BIBLIOTHERAPY?

It’s a big part of our improvised life. Every morning before we start our work or look at email, we open a book from the stacks by the sofa and ALWAYS find something essential that sets the tone for the day. We mark the spot with a post-it; our books are peppered with them.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

More often-than-not, what we find ends up in Improvised Life. Here’s what we found this morning:

When we realize that the path is the goal, there’s a sense of workability. Trungpa Rimpoche said, ‘Whatever occurs in the confused mind is regarded as the path. Everything is workable. It is a fearless proclamation, the lion’s roar.‘ Everything that occurs in our confused mind we can regard as the path. Everything is workable.*

THAT’s why physical books are so sublime. They afford a visceral, tactile form of random discovery that is very different than reading a digital book (although we DO find bibliosophia/bibliotherapy happens on our phone as well; it’s just harder to mark.)

We include images of the discarded books artist Alexis Arnold transformed into crystallized sculptures because they remind us of the luminous potential of even the most wrecked book we find in our wanderings: confections of ideas. (More here.)

Alexis Arnold

Alexis Arnold

*  Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

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