It’s my version of the Great Wall. The monitor’s glow casts an eerie shadow over the books encroaching on my writer’s retreat. The room itself is somewhat of a library, one of two in my house. Abraham Lincoln oversees the expanse, almost literally as a nearly two-foot bronze bust keeps watch from the corner cabinet. Six bookcases encase only a third of my Lincoln books (five more are in the upstairs library). And yet, these are not part of the wall.
My Great Wall surrounds me. Books stacked two feet high on the floor to my right and left, another foot bracketing my keyboard on either side of the desk. Behind me the low hills of magazines, file papers, and boxes of information I’m excavating for current and future book projects. At times it feels as imposing as its Ming namesake.
But my wall moves, or at least the individual books move as if bricks to be rearranged like in a game of Jenga. Slowly I pull a book from the middle, careful not to topple the stack as I search for a resource on Lincoln’s patent or his law practice or, not ironically, the books he checked out of the Library of Congress. Satisfied that the stack will remain upright, I extract the needed information and rest the book on the top of the pile. Such is how there is a constant turnover of knowledge, like the tilling of topsoil prior to planting.
Which reminds me; it’s time to buy another bookcase.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book on Abraham Lincoln is due out in 2017.