Thursday, January 29, 2009

Above all things I love....

Books. Since I was six and learned to decipher those markings on the paper, I've spent hours with my nose in a book. I started with Dick and Jane and Spot, moved to My Friend Flicka and Misty of Chincoteague, then every single Nancy Drew and Perry Mason and Nurse Sue Barton. I moved on to autobiographies, biographies, historical novels, non-fiction on everything under the sun. I'm surprised I don't have a permanent crook in my neck from the time spent walking up and down the aisles of the local library, with my head turned sideways, reading the book spines.

I just flat love books. I actually read Catcher in the Rye three times, trying to understand how a teenage boy really thinks. You'd think three readings would have helped me avoid a crummy boyfriend or two along the way. I'd rather spend an hour in Barnes and Noble than any shoe store on earth (having feet as big as a boat may have something to do with that.) I've been known to move monies from the clothing accrual to the office one, where book money is held and often depleted.

Snuggled right in the middle of six kids, surrounded by four hooligan boys, I found refuge from the storm of a busy house through reading. For some reason I was sick - a lot. Nothing terribly frightening other than a few bouts of pneumonia but I was 'the puny one'. I spent hours and hours reading all thirteen volumes of Childcraft, front to back. Even World Book encyclopedias just fascinated me.

So today - between snow storms - I bundled up and headed out for a day out of the house. There were prescriptions to pick up, some returns at the mall, packages to ship, and our favorite oh-so-classy wine in a box to pick up. But before all that, I headed to the public library.

I just finished last night, slowly on purpose, the last seven pages of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. As I read the last chapter, a line jumped from the page: "It's hard to be truly generous and behave in a forthright manner when you don't know how." How's that for something to chew on? Reading author notes, and bookclub discussion questions (I read ALL of a book!) I saw that the author has apparently written a sequel, "Peony in Love", the name of the last character in Snow Flower. I added my name to the library's waiting list. You can't beat 'free' for a book, and they told me I'm next in line!

Inside a little notebook my daughter, Sarah gave me to keep track of books I've read and those next in line, I jotted a quote from "500 Great Books by Women':
We read to learn, to feel, to stretch beyond our own lives, to escape and to understand. A book has the power to reach back toward us and let us know we are not alone. Up from a flat page of type comes joy or anger or sadness, a sentence that soars, or an image that surprises like a photograph long forgotten. For a few hundred pages we can feel new rhythms, see new images, learn about ourselves, become someone else."
Exactly. The book I chose, to bring home as my #3 Fiction Read of 2009 - "Understood Betsy". It's a book Sarah is reading to her children, written in 1917. By venturing over to the children's section once in awhile I get to relive my own childhood, all over again. Minus the pneumonia.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating, "Thank you, Mom, for taking me to that library over and over and over, for making sure that whatever else may have been lacking in my life, books were not. xoxoo"


Susanne said...

I remember the thrill of getting my first library card. I still can get lost in the library for hours on end. Time just disappears in there. I can't ever remember not reading. And yes, I too, have been known to read in an encyclopedia or two just for fun.

Leedra said...

Memories, libraries....guess that is why I like to read so much. I can't spend too long in the 2 book stores I go to. I am like you, books mean more to me than shoes.

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Chris said...

Bev - I've never commented before - I found you through Sarah's blog - but I just had to comment today because I LOVE books too! My favorites are Christian fiction and historical fiction.

I also, as another person said, remember getting my first library card when I was 5 years old. Now, as a mom, when I need some time away from my kids, my first choice is to escape to the library.

Thanks for the reminiscing on such a great topic!

Bev said...

And thank you Chris for making me not feel alone in being a book nerd. Even the smell of a musty old book just feeds my soul. I found Island of the Blue Dolphins at the library today, for 50 cents, and had to pick it up - it's such a dear memory for me, and I can't wait to cozy up with it. Of all the things my mother passed on to me, love of reading is #1 on my list. A bit of her sassiness I'm thankful for too!

Gretchen said...

Oh we go to the libarry at least 3 times a month. Usually on a Sunday afternoon. Stacks of books in hand.

If you liked Lisa See, please check out Gail Tsukiyama. I promise you, you would love her. I started with The Samurai's Garden, but haven't found one I didn't devour. Very gentle, yet forthright writing style.

Becky said...

I was never a reader as a child. I discovered the joy as an adult and I cannot get enough of it.

I think that is why I love to read blogs. It is like a book that goes on and on and never ends. I hate when a good story comes to an end just like you. With blogs, there is a new story every few days.

Yay for that!

Emma Caroline said...

I love reading, too! My little guys are like that, too! They love to curl up at night in their beds with their light wedges and read until they get sleepy.

Starting Monday night, we are "supposed" to get 12 more inches of snow!!

Robin said...

Sigh. I know. My books are my best friends.

Leah in Iowa said...

I just posted last night that our family is having a Reading Contest for the month of February. You can't begin to know how high the level of excitement is around here! Just imagine - four weeks of guilt-free reading. Sounds like heaven to me! And to you, too, evidently. =)

Barb said...

I have fond memories of the library Mom took us to, too. Oddly enough, I think I was at the Nancy Drew stage when I fell in love with books. And then I hit the nurse book stage and I believe those are the books I read with a flashlight, under the covers, in the bed you and I always shared.

Love of books is one of the many gifts Mom gave us. xoxo

Linda said...

I only have a quick minute here (just home from Dallas) - but me too Bev - to all of it. I am drawn to books like a moth to flame. I spend money on books when I should be buying things I need for the house or clothes for myself. It is a lovely addiction I think!!
...And I always love your reviews and recommendations. I have the Betsy book on my shelf to reread some time soon!

Beverlydru said...

I am clicking around meeting new people today. I saw your name and had to come investigate. Our name is not so very common. When I started reading and got to this post I really connected. I LOVE books. I feel like delving into a book is like travelling, without having to pack and bag or get on a plane. Love it. I'll be back. It's nice to meet you!

Renna said...

I used to be like you, always had my nose in a book. I wish I'd thought to keep a notebook over the years of the books I read, along with a rating beside them, what special thing I got out of them, etc.

About a year or two ago, my concentration level went down the toilet. I still do read, but it takes me forever to read a book now, that I used to read in a day or so. I keep thinking it has something to do with the joys of going through menopause, and am hopeful the focus will come back, as I really do miss all that reading!