gratitude journal: the table of contents edition

TOC for Aimee Nezhukumatathil's Lucky Fish

We interrupt our NaPoRevMo programming to bring you Thankful Thursday. Today, amongst about one bazillion other things, I am thankful for tables of contents.

Reader, I adore TOCs. They are like a map to a book, a secret code, a meeting of eyes that lasts just a bit longer than it should. They are a trail of breadcrumbs, a sketch in pencil, a finger beckoning, Come in, come in. When I have three more minutes at my desk until Kinder pick-up, when there’s not time to actually read poems, I sometimes reach for a book and read its table of contents. When a book is sitting in my stack of books to read, when it’s down on the list by a few, I read the table of contents to tide myself over. When I pick up a new (or new-to-me) book, I read the acknowledgement first, then take my time savoring the table of contents, its mild meander down the page.

The word table comes from old words (Latin, possibly via Umbrian) for board, slab, plank. Contents comes from the Latin for to hold together, enclose. I love the way a table of contents can hold together a collection of poems on its pages.

Have you ever read a TOC out loud? If not, you should try it. The music, the rhythm! The best TOCs read like a poem in and of themselves. The best TOCs also entice, remain mysterious and elusive enough so that we want to read the poems.

Wouldn’t you want to read a book with these titles in its TOC?:

The Globe is Just an Asterisk and Every Home Should Have an Asterisk
If You Find Yourself on a Houseboat
The Mascot of Beavercreek High Breaks Her Silence
Notes for the Heartbeat at my Feet

So, today I say Thank you, Universe for tables of contents, their spare beauty, their promise of the future, their inborn mystery.

And now, I have about 3 minutes until the kids are released for “Minimum Day” so I think I’ll grab a table of contents and do a little reading… .

9 thoughts on “gratitude journal: the table of contents edition

      • I think I did a Tow Truck prompt last year about using an index and one about using book titles – why a table of contents never occurred to me, I don’t know! Going to work on it now…

      • I’d love to know how it goes. I never thought about working a TOC toward a poem either (even after singing the praises of TOCs today) so thanks for that idea!

  1. Wow, Molly! And to think I never fully appreciated the Table of Contents. Now I do!

    I live near the Sylvia Beach Hotel — in which every room is named for a writer — and the hotel’s restaurant is called “Table of Contents. So there’s two reasons for you to make a visit to the Oregon Coast.

  2. Pingback: NaPoWriMo Day 5: Lying and Stealing | Put Words Together. Make Meaning.

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