Kimber here. With a question: Where do your best friends live?
The Book Place
Some of our BFFs live at The Book Place. Where they have row after row of books! All lined up on shelves, just waiting to be checked out and read Also…. Oh. Wait. Mom is butting in again. So I’ll let her tell you more and give you some additional background:
Mom: There’s something inspirational about a library. Being in the massed presence of so many authors is like snuggling under a cozy quilt on a snowy day. It’s like Christmas, Independence Day and the First Day of Summer all rolled into one.
A Summer Experiment
Here in the warm embrace of some of my favorite dead people, I’ve engaged in a summer experiment: I’m re-reading some of my favorite stories from childhood. There’s something steadying and bracing about unearthing and enjoying a book that’s still in circulation some forty years or so after finding it the first time. It’s like digging up a pot of gold or swan-diving into an Olympic-sized pool of Hershey’s chocolate with almonds.
It’s also kind of strange.
Galaxies & Memories
Yes, the publishing world has cranked out galaxies of books since Guttenberg printed his first Bible. But returning to an old favorite seems… right. Like stepping into a pair of well-worn jeans.
Memories of long ago tumble out as pages open, prompted by Marguerite Henry and Laura Ingalls Wilder. E.B. White and L. Frank Baum. H.A. Rey and Dr. Seuss. Edmond Dantes. Stuart Little. Hawkeye and Ching-ach-gook. Black Beauty and Ginger. The Cay. A.A. Milne, H.A. Rey. Peter and Wendy. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Margaret Wise Brown, Virginia Burton, and Felix Salten. Where the Wild Things Are.
So many more. Re-reading them now stirs up a frothy brew of appreciation, nostalgia and a double latte sigh. Hello and goodbye at the same time.
Buried in Books
Buried in these books, mental pictures of classmates, teachers, friends and family surface. A favorite book may nudge memories of a certain person, event, or season.
Little Women dredges up memories of silver aluminum Christmas trees and color wheels. Ditto Island of the Blue Dolphin, which I re-read again last week. The story of Karana, Rontu and Rontu-Aru beckons my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Manderson, who read the book aloud to the class about a hundred years ago.
Yellow hibiscus bloom like spring sunsets when perusing Swiss Family Robinson. And yes, nearly every childhood favorite recalls weekly excursions to the library with my mom.
Growing Up With Books
You see, I grew up in a household groaning with books. In a family that would rather read then eat. I’ve never understood how any living soul could abhor reading. It’s like hating breathing. (It may also explain how some people wind-up in Congress. But that’s another story.)
My earliest, fondest memories involve books. I’m told that my mom read The Sound and the Fury aloud to me before I was born, which may explain my aversion to Faulkner (apologies to high school English teachers everywhere). She also reportedly read Shakespeare, Dickens, and the Bible. I suspect Mom either sped-read, excerpted, or that that pregnancy lasted for years.
Likewise, my earliest cognizant memory of Dad was sitting in his lap while he read aloud. Probably something light. Like War and Peace.
Kimber: We recently heard someone declare, straight-faced, that “reading is a complete waste of time.” I wanted to bite him. Mom wouldn’t let me. ‘Sides. I thought she was gonna beat me to it. Instead, Mom smiled sweetly and muttered something about cave-dwelling Neanderthals and pond scum.
I’ll take a good story over TV, movies, IPods, MP3s,social media, smart phones or presidential debates any time. And for those who deem reading “a complete waste of time,” I’d like ask, “What constitutes a valuable investment of time?”
A good story can last a lifetime. And good books? Well, did better friends ever exist?
- Never jump up and rush off to another appointment or dump you for a better offer.
- Are never double-booked (ouch!)
- Are patient, waiting for your return so you can pick up where you left off.
- Accept anyone who opens their pages, offering their treasure to those willing to spend the time to mine them.
How many cave-dwelling Neanderthals can you say that about?
Mom and Kimber, In Unison
As summer winds down and we glide into September, good books remain constant. Joyous. Full of adventure and treasure, waiting to be discovered or re-discovered. That’s why reading a good book, especially one from yesteryear, is like reuniting with an old friend. Why going to The Book Place is like Coming Home.
Who’s with us?