Saturday, December 10, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

I heart books. If, heaven forbid, my house ever caught on fire I quite possible would die because I would be trying to save my books after I saved my animals. During the very early years of my life my family lived two doors away from the public library. The only thing separating me from Valhalla was our neighbor’s yard. Our neighbors name was “Neighbor”. Well, that is what I called them. Family lore is that after hearing my Mom say “Hi neighbor”, I, being a wicked smart kid thought that was their name and dubbed them as such forever more. I couldn’t tell you their real name to save my life. The border between our houses wasn’t a fence but a row of Peony bushes. I would spend endless hours smelling those Peonies and watching the ants crawl all over them. To this day Peonies are still one of my all time favorite flowers. Neighbor had a dog and it was a Lhasa Apso from Tibet. Well not actually from Tibet but that was where the breed originated from and its name was…wait for it…it was named Tibet. They also had a fish tank with a live starfish in it. Totally random and I digress.

Any hoo…back to books. On the other side of Neighbor was our town’s public library. Whenever I would go to the library I didn’t go out the front door and walk down the side walk to the library. We lived on a busy four lane highway. Much too dangerous for Mom to even contemplate letting me do. So, I would go out the back door and cross through our and Neighbor’s backyard, “Hi Neighbor”, on my way to the back door of the library. A lot of times the librarian would be on the back steps as I walked over. To this day I suspect that my Mom probably called to tell them I was on my way over. So the librarian would be keeping an eye out for me.

Walking into the building was magical. It was an older, kind of historical building that was dimly lit, nothing like the libraries of today. It wasn’t bright or sleek and certainly didn’t have computers…well, ok, in all fairness it was the 70’s. When the light shined through the older upper windows, the dust motes would float and play in the rays of sunshine. There were cubbies or sitting areas to sit in while you read. The chairs were old and had cracks in the leather but so comfy. In the children’s section, there were beat up, well used bean bags. Sometimes, while I was reading, I would lie on those bean bags with my legs up and my feet resting on the shelves or the wall or I would sit in the chairs with my back on one arm and my legs dangling over the other one. The building smelled musty and the books even more so. I love that smell. I should since my nose was always in a book.

One of the very first books I ever checked out of the library was “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crocket Johnson. Harold could create his adventures by drawing them. He created other worlds. From this book I realized that I could have adventures too…by reading them. I was hooked. My love affair began. I became a pioneer who traveled by wagon with my family out to the prairie. I walked through a wardrobe into a land with talking animals. I moved into a giant peach pit after leaving my evil aunties behind. I put on my emerald colored glasses and followed a yellow brick road. I rode sideways, long ways, and short ways in a glass elevator.  I lamented having a younger brother because it is hard being a fourth grade nothing. I contemplated what a Tesseract was and who the three Mrs. W’s really were. Books were and continue to be my passport to far off places.

I like the weight of a book. I love the feeling of older books that have fabric like covers. I like the sound the spine of a brand new book makes when you open it for the first time. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of the paper. I like the sound the pages make when you turn them or flip through them. I have stayed up all night for books. Books have caused me to lose track of time so losing myself in one is an easy thing to do. I have been late to events because I need to read just one more chapter.

I love spending time in bookstores. I have received gift cards to bookstores and have been known to take several hours picking out the books I want to get with that gift card. I want to make sure it has been spent on the right books. My friends will walk around the mall for a couple of hours and know that they can come back and find me still perusing the selection or copping a squat on the floor reading. I have one friend who won’t go with me because they know it could be a while. When I buy books I like them to match. What I mean by that is that if I buy the first book in a series and it is a paperback the rest of the series has to be paperback and vice versa. I am a weirdo. I know this and I am ok with it.

I heart books, they are people too.

Writing myself happy.

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