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Reading as a Way of Life

Total cliche of the heart, by Irargerich“My heartfelt belief was that all meals should be eaten hunched over a desk with your nose in a book and everything you were eating chopped up and eaten out of a bowl with a spoon, the better to scoop it up without having to lift your eyes from the page.”
~ Polly Horvath, The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane

What a relief it is to find buddies who understand the cellular-level imperative to delve for treasure in books. They’re the people we don’t have to explain our love affair with reading material to. It helps to grow up with such folks. And – my point here – is that it helps to be such folk, to champion love affairs with books everywhere and anywhere we can.

Growing up, I often enjoyed blissful breakfasts with my mother and my brother as we faced each other across our round dining table, lost in our own worlds, mesmerized as we impatiently turned the pages of our book-of-the-moment. To make the picture in your mind’s eye complete, you need to know that we each had a little sturdy wire book stand, so the book would sit upright and the pages wouldn’t flap around in the breeze coming through the open window. The nerds at home.

Further early training to revere and honour the bookish life came in the form of a delicious urgency about libraries. We moved an average of once a year, all around the southern U.S., and the moment we’d loaded all the boxes into the new place, Mom would haul us kids to the local library, get us all library cards (our own cards, mind you), and set us loose, with no limits about the type or quantity of reading material we chose. No matter where we were, I thus felt at home. The pure joy (writing this makes the hairs on my arms stand up with remembered thrill) of exploring a new library salved many wounds incurred in the process of being a painfully shy girl having to enter a new school and make friends all over again.

Love books. Love people who love books. Love helping people love books. Curiosity is key.

Flickr photo: Total cliche of the heart, by Irargerich

Related reading: Book Concepts, Interview | Nan


  1. Marina wrote:

    I love books too :)

    Friday, July 17, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  2. jo martin wrote:

    I love reading, libraries *and* librarians!

    When I was young, children under 15 were not allowed in the Adult areas; we had to stay in the Childrens’ Room. By 5th grade, I had literally read *every* book there. So the Childrens’ Librarian would allow me to quietly go into the Adult stacks, find books I wanted, hide them, then she would check them out. But it was Our Secret – I couldn’t tell anyone or I would get her in trouble.

    She taught this too tall, overweight abused child that she was special and that because I was(am) special rules could be broken for me.

    I didn’t even mind when, years later, I found I wasn’t the only child she had done this for.

    I have been around addicts of various kinds when they need a fix — alcohol, drugs, gambling. They have *nothing* on me if I have nothing to read. I even have emergency books just in case I run out when the library’s closed.

    And – the library system here has a widget on their home page that allows you to track the cost of your library usage if you had to pay full price for everything. Last month, I saved $909 and some change. Wow.

    So glad to know others love to read as much as I do!

    Friday, July 17, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Reading has been my passion since my first visit to the library in grammar school. I love all kinds of books and they are my intimate companions. As a matter of fact, I have more books than clothes.

    To this day I won’t go anywhere without a book in my purse, sometimes two.

    Glad to connect with other book lovers…

    Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Jennifer A. wrote:

    Thanks for this post! What a cool mom you had to encourage reading at breakfast and to make a priority of visiting the library in the middle of a move.

    I have such happy memories of visiting the library in the town where I grew up. Sometimes I still go back there in my mind; without even trying to remember it, I find myself walking among the shelves, up and down the ramps and stairs, around the giant square circulation desk. The whole place was so solid and comforting.

    I recently finished a book called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. The central characters meet and become dear friends through a love of books. Any book lover can relate!

    Thanks for noticing and naming this HSP joy.

    Monday, July 20, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  5. All of your great comments make more lovely library memories rise to the surface. I lived in Washigton, D.C., for a while – a trippy experience on many levels – and a breathtaking pleasure was to visit the Library of Congress and simply bask in the knowledge and presence of the creation of the AMAZING book- and archive-lovers who’d created such a place. Heaven.

    Monday, July 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  6. lillie wrote:

    love this post. i’ve also been a book and library lover since i was a kid. the library is still one of the first places that i visit when i move to (or even visit!) a new place.

    Monday, July 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink