By Victoria Tirrel
Originally published in the January 2017 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter
When Ed and I began planning to leave our house in Saint Anthony Park, one concern was finding a new home with space for our sizeable library. Even if we downsized ruthlessly, over his thirty years and my eighteen in our house we’d stashed books in every room—living, dining, den, kitchen and pantry. Books slept in the bedrooms and toiled in our offices. The back walls of both back porches, upstairs and down, were windows into other worlds thanks to the contents of their shelves. In the attic, we kept our loftiest books—two rooms of them! You folks are bibliophiles, so you know what I mean.
Books were on my mind when we decided to look at 1666. So it was a relief to walk into the entryway of our Duluth model and envision poets Amy Lowell, the Bard and Robert W. Service greeting visitors from our antique attorney’s bookshelves. In the master bedroom, floor to ceiling shelves flanked the lovely view to the courtyard. A niche in the living room called for books like the siren Lorelei.
But the revelation wasn’t over until we walked into the Library. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! The spines of old (and new) friends welcomed me from the shelves, and I knew I was home.
We’ve still had to downsize. Ed got us rolling by donating his scholarly books to several university libraries. I gave books away and slowed my purchase of fiction, a sacrifice for an aspiring novelist who wants to support fellow writers and independent bookstores.
Next we gathered 800+ books we could part with and had a sale. Some things were easy to let go of. After all, we owned three copies of Tim O’Brien’s masterpiece The Things They Carried and two copies of Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. In the humor section, we had primers on teaching your cat French, volumes 1 and 2. Slowly the survivors are making their way to 1666, some into Unit 202 but several into 1666 Library.
So while I’m downsizing a lot to live at 1666, I’ve also traded up. Unit 202 is just steps from the Library, so when I finish a book at 11 pm (or 3 am), I can slip down the hall to our jewel to select the next. And the next. And the next.
By Joanne Kendall, Katie Weiblen, Victoria Tirrel
Originally published in the January 2016 issue of 1666 Coffman Newsletter
In December, nearly fifty of you took the time to complete a survey about what Book Night has meant to you since it began more than twenty years ago. Overwhelmingly, you said that Book Night conveners and presenters have gotten it right in two big ways. Through them your reading world has been enlarged and elucidated. And, just as important, you’ve gotten to know them and your neighbors better.
Many of you wrote about the value to our Coffman community of intellectual pursuits like Book Night. If we were creating a balance sheet, the events that contribute to “the life of the mind” surely would be listed as a long-term asset. And from the promotion angle, such an amenity can be a powerful draw for potential new residents. As we move forward into the next era of Book Night, a great opportunity lies before us to recommit to and possibly give a new look to this asset.
So what’s in store for our first Book Night of 2017? Our evening will open with Joanne Kendall’s brief review of the history of Book Night, followed by an idea that emerged from the survey—several minireviews in an evening. We’ll briefly hear from three residents about books they’ve recently enjoyed.
Other terrific ideas emerged as part of the survey, and we didn’t want to end the input there. Next, we’ll turn things over to Katie Weiblen, who’ll guide a discussion among all attendees about more ideas for how Coffman residents can work together to continue and build on the terrific heritage of Book Night.
For wrap-up of the evening, Victoria Tirrel will bring together the ideas that emerged in both the discussion and survey, then talk about next steps.
By the way, an overwhelming number of survey respondents (82%) asked that the frequency of Book Night not change. So, at least through spring, we’ll continue to gather on the third Wednesday evening of each month at 7:30 pm.
We invite you to invest your time on January 18 for a conversation about Book Night. And bring your neighbor! Working together, we can be sure this shared asset is there for each of us—and our future neighbors—well into the coming years.
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