One of the things I appreciate the most about my parents is they never said no to a book. Mom started reading to Lindy and I way back when we were babies. And when I started reading on my own, my thirst for stories was insatiable. I was that kid who always had a book with me (and another book or two tucked in a pocket or a backpack, just in case I finished the first one and needed a spare).
When we lived in Bird City, my summers were split evenly between the library and the city swimming pool. And every time took a road trip to visit grandparents and made a pit stop at the Walmart in McCook along the way, I would tell Mom and Dad that they could find me by the books, and then I’d take off before they could think to say no. By the time they finished their shopping and came to collect me, I’d usually have at least a half-dozen books cradled in my arms and I’d ask if I could get them. Mom and Dad always agreed to let me have one, (sometimes more than one if I chose a few that weren’t too expensive), and I’d leave the store clutching my prize and itching to settle into the back seat of the car and lose myself in a new story.
If there is anything in this life that I’m irrationally attached to, it’s books. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
Cadence had a school assignment over Christmas break this year–count the number of books you have in your house. I apologized to her before giving her a pad of Post-It notes and a little advice–go room by room and shelf by shelf. When you finish one shelf, jot the number on a sticky note, stick the note to the shelf, and repeat.
Final count = 1,308.
I’m fairly certain there are a few more books squirreled away in boxes in the basement, but we weren’t going to make her take on that excavation. And in the four months since she finished the assignment, I’ve probably added at least fifteen or twenty more to the count.
If it was anything other than books, I might have to admit I have a problem.
But here’s the thing–books are magic. And I truly believe they are the only way we humans ever get a chance to see what goes on inside the mind of another human being. They’re the only way we ever get an opportunity to step outside of ourselves and our own private world and get a glimpse of another. Only words wield that sort of power.
So yes, I hold onto them and return to them, and I enjoy walking into my house and seeing them sitting there on the shelves waiting for me to dive back in. And I love passing them onto others, sometimes mid-conversation saying, “Oh, have you read _____?” and then plucking a copy off the shelf and pressing it into their hands telling them to take it and read it and enjoy it and pass it along to someone else when they’re done because I can buy another copy if I want to replace it. There’s no better gift than the gift of a story.
Pass it on.