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Book Talk

Text: Elizabeth Belts Kauffman

(page 2 of 3)

Colleen Daly

For as long as she can remember, Colleen Daly has been guided by a strong connection to place. And although a job offer to be executive director of the Community Library in Ketchum was the catalyst for Daly’s migration back to the Wood River Valley, it was her bond with the area’s landscape that cinched the deal. “I am compelled by landscape in an almost spiritual way,” Daly says. “And I am passionate about the library.” She believes The Community Library is a touchstone for people—it’s not just about the books. “For many people who live here, the library represents something vital about Ketchum, something that is deeply connected to the heart and soul of the place.”

Reading

“For me, working in the library is like being a kid in a candy store,” Daly says. Picking her next book to read is like choosing a flavor of ice cream or wine—it’s very personal, she notes. “Some people choose one type; others read broadly. The latter is what I do.”

A self-described fast reader, she typically reads several books at a time. Currently on her nightstand are three nonfiction books, Life Work by Donald Hall, The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, alongside a book of Italian short stories (in Italian) and two books by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. However, when she finds a good novel, Daly reads it straight through, leaving any other books untouched until she’s finished.

Daly is attracted to novels that have well-drawn characters and a vivid sense of place. Lately she finds herself reading novels about immigrants such as Metropolis by Elizabeth Gaffney set in New York City in the late 1800s, and Small Island by Andrea Levy, which describes the lives of Jamaicans living in London after World War II. Such novels are relevant today because people are migrating, Daly says, especially from Eastern to Western Europe and South America northward. “They are seeking opportunities to live a life better than the one they already have.”

Favorite Passage

From The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch:
As I lay there, listening to the soft slap of the sea, and thinking these sad and strange thoughts, more and more and more stars had gathered, obliterating the separateness of the Milky Way and filling up the whole sky. And far, far away in that ocean of gold, stars were silently shooting and falling and finding their fates, among those billions and billions of merging golden lights. And curtain after curtain of gauze was quietly removed, and I saw stars behind stars behind stars, as in the magical Odeons of my youth. And I saw into the vast soft interior of the universe, which was slowly and gently turning itself inside out. I went to sleep, and in my sleep I seemed to hear a sound of singing.

“I like the way the words go together, the way it makes me feel. But I also like not knowing why I like it.”

 

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