Book talk among the general public is largely driven by new titles – in the form of reviews, author tours or interviews, and other publicity. But as Ezra Pound said, “literature is news that stays news.” Heartwood seeks to shine a light on older books whose promotional day in the sun has long since past, but whose words are still powerfully alive for those who choose to read them.
More specifically, Heartwood is focused, for the most part, on older fiction that includes international authors, works from small or defunct presses, older or low-profile award winners, and respected titles that nevertheless appear to remain largely unread. The books selected may also be personal favorites, serendipitous discoveries, humorous oddities, or books not-yet-read but kept on hand for when the right mood or moment strikes.
About the name
The image at the top of this page shows the front of the Everett Public Library along with a large circular saw-blade imprinted with a ship, a loading dock and a sawmill. In bygone years, this image was stamped on the sleeves for holding date-due cards that were glued inside the book covers. Books containing these stamps can still be found in our collection.
Though not everything from our logging-era past is praiseworthy (see Norman Clark’s Mill Town for examples), it is from this image and heritage that the series takes its name. An online glossary of sawmilling terms includes this entry for heartwood:
In a cross section of a log, the heartwood is the centre and dead portion where growth rings appear. This area, between the pith and sapwood, may contain phenolic compounds, gums, resins and other material that usually make it darker and more decay resistant than sapwood.*
Libraries strive to preserve the meritorious while also bringing in new, high-demand materials. Many of the titles featured in Heartwood have withstood multiple collection evaluations, in some cases over a period of decades. This is not to say they all meet some ironclad measure of excellence. But, for one reason or another, the titles included here have proven more durable than many others, and they offer a wide diversity of reading experiences that go far beyond the merely contemporary.
Heartwood appears periodically in areadinglife.com. Click the link below to read all the posts.