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Naked? Near a fire? Read a book

By Melonie Cannon


Quoting my son, “I used to imagine that when I was in your tummy, I was naked and sitting in a big chair by a fire, reading a book.”

Last Saturday I went over to see a dear friend of mine. She is a scholar, an author, a scriptorian, a visionary, a true disciple of the Lord, and I have to add, a weight-lifter who wears extremely high- cheetah-print heels. I love being around her and listening to her insights and doctrinal knowledge. I will try on her high heels and hobble around her kitchen while she describes to me her theories on the coming “Davidic servant” or “Priesthood authority.” This is our relationship. I try to make her laugh while she tries to make me serious.

She invited me up to her study to show me three books that she recommends on Church History. It was pristine. Black bookshelves stood as sentinels around her neat desk. I scanned all of the bookshelves. There were historical books, church books, many versions of scriptures, academic books, ancient language books, and just about every obscure scholarly Mormon work you could imagine. It was as if someone had lifted a scholarly section of the library and set it down at the top of her stairs, first door on the left. Not one book was out of place. I asked her where the novels were? “I don’t read novels. I haven’t in years.” What about any classics? “None.” No Jane Eyre? No fairy tales? Not even myths? “I had a book on ancient Hebrew myths once, but I threw it out.” I told her that I would bring her Jane Eyre to grace her bookshelf. She said, “Don’t bother. The next day it will be sent to Goodwill.”

Suddenly my reading life flashed before my eyes. I saw my bookshelves and desk, crammed over with the hodge-podge of topics and colors. Chinese Brush-painting, novels, biographies, poetry, detective novels, art history, yoga, Shakespeare, self-help books, romances, Westerns, classics, fantasy, science fiction, church books, architecture books, music books, how to write books, travel books, Italian, French, German books, and at least five different cover versions of Jane Eyre…to name a few, and I realized how beauteous and bounteous my books are. They create life and vibrancy around my house and sometimes I just like to run my hands along them. They are fresh, ripe fruit always ready to be picked and eaten with relish and juicy goodness. All of them should be read “naked and sitting in a big chair with a fire.” I cannot imagine my life without them. I think my friend would feel the same way about her collection of high-heeled shoes. Each has a different story. “I am a reader, not because I don’t have a life, but because I choose to have many.”

What object/s in your life bring you joy?

PS. Speaking of wonderful books to put on your bookshelf. Melissa Bradford Dalton’s book is coming out in a few days! It will be on my shelves soon. On Loss and Living Onward is available on Amazon.

About Melonie Cannon

Melonie has surrounded herself with beautiful words for as long as she can remember. This led her to find a home with Segullah after writing an essay published in the May 2006 Segullah issue. She was invited to join the staff and has been a part of Segullah in various capacities since, including being the creator of the “Words Fall In” podcast.  She received her M.Ed from the University of Utah and was a certified Secondary English teacher before becoming a Mom of four. Over the years, her focus has been on natural healing modalities and becoming a sacred sound healing practitioner with a focus on the drum, rhythm, voice, and vibration. She is finishing her PH.D. in theology and metaphysics to further these studies and help women to connect to the divine within themselves.

8 thoughts on “Naked? Near a fire? Read a book”

  1. Naked, by a fire, reading a book…….wow. Sounds like a pretty great fetal existence to me! I too love books but find myself reading less and less fiction as I get older. Not exactly sure why, but I guess it's because if my emotions are going to get messed with, I want it real. My own version of cheetah print heels are my flowers. Twenty years ago, my young self would have been like, "whaaaat?", because horticulture in any form was not on the radar. But now? The smells, the textures, the buds just about open….ahhh…..pure bliss. Once, my visiting teacher stopped by and we'd just recently finished a MAJOR landscaping effort. A whole huge hillside that was once dandelions was now flowering trees and shrubs and ground covers. The dirt patch had turned into a pond and a waterfall. I could (and often did) spend whole minutes just staring at it , smiling and feeling like I'd gone to heaven. Anyway, my VT came in and we'd been talking for a few minutes and then she said, "Oh, I meant to ask, did you ever start that yard project you were talking about?" She parted the curtains and peered outside, "I didn't notice when I walked in……." I just laughed. Everyone has their own things that float their boat. I suppose that's what makes life interesting! Speaking of which, life was more interesting when you were in Washington.

  2. I love this! I'm sort of the opposite of your friend…..at least my bookshelf is the opposite of hers (although I fo have non-fiction).

    I don't know where I would be without stories. I read at the plot level and a story wonderfully told is my most favorite thing.

    I always feel guilty when I hear people like your friend talk about their literary pursuits but I feel kind of sorry for her, too. No stories her life!

    I'm re-reading several of Pearl Buck's books and Catherine Cookson just for fun. I have Sue Monk Kidd's latest book on my shelf but I've avoided it out of fear. I know it will be devastating.

    Also reading a book about various scholars religious seekings…a compilation. Non-fiction but still, stories. Clothes on. 🙂

  3. Oh, Eileen!! I miss you and your amazingness. You are one of the best wordsmiths I have ever known. I am sure your yard is even more amazing that it was the last time I saw it. When I come up again, I will be sure to visit and see your pond. Love you, girl.

  4. My books and my bookshelf bring me delight. Year before last I bought myself a gorgeous bookshelf, all wood, with shelves at different levels and it's more than six feet long. I nearly talked myself out of it, but it brings me happiness and satisfaction every time I look at it. I also love looking at other people's bookshelves – fascinating!

    Being naked by a fire reading a book sounds sublime!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I love my piano. I waited 32 years to finally have a piano of my own. The piano itself is nothing special, bought used and you can tell, but I always wanted a piano growing up and we always had an organ. 😛 It was my best gift ever; my husband bought it for me for Christmas. I love to sit down and play the piano — when I'm depressed, when I'm happy, when I'm contemplative, when I'm angry, when I'm bored. I don't play it as much as I should, but I definitely love it.

    I do love to look at people's bookcases when I am in their home. You can learn a lot about people that way.

  6. "Naked by a fire reading a book" sounds like heaven to me. I'm sure there'll be at least some of that when I get there!

  7. I would bet that your friend values her books just as much as you do yours judging by the types of conversations you say you have, not necessarily her shoes.

    A few years ago I set a challenge for myself to read more non-fiction, specifically 26 non-fiction books, one topic for each letter of the alphabet. Since then I've been drawn to non-fiction and read it all the time. I still prefer the occasional fiction, especially a good "children's" book. But I love my non-fiction, arranged alphabetically by author on the shelves. I dream of having a whole wall of book shelves in our family room, full of stories of the world that inspire, true stories.

    Fiction is wonderful, and it certainly has it's place. But often the truth is even more fantastical than any story or plot someone could make up.


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