Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh, Books...

I love books.

Until fairly recently, when the subject of books and reading came up in conversation, I felt a need to impress upon the other person my true and pure love affair with books. Most of my friends do read, and even enjoy reading, but in our discussions about books and reading, I rarely felt that they understood or shared the intensity of my infatuation. I suppose I felt compelled to disambiguate the mere enjoyment of books from my personal relationship with them in the hope that I would find someone who understood. And, as elitist as it may seem, I don't want people who "like to read" to think they have what I have (although I acknowledge the possibility they are feeling the same way about me as I am about them). I don't like to read. I love books. In all my searching, I have found two comrades, and I married one of them.

I have books that are best friends, books that are enemies, books for winter, books for summer, books for rainy days, books for each mood, books for when I'm busy, and books for when I'm bored. Authors have invented characters that are closer to me than any of my friends, and it is not because I have disloyal or uninteresting friends. Sometimes these characters come from "classics", but I don't discriminate. I read what speaks to me, and when I was a child, that certainly wasn't Tolstoy or Dickens, and I have no misgivings about admitting that. Lois Lowry and Ann M. Martin were powerful figures in my adolescence. I can return to those childhood friends like opening a box of forgotten treasures, stowed away in a closet and remaining exactly the same as I left them. I know these people.

I mourn the fall of the written word. As much as technology and global communication has to offer, the tactile sensation of holding a hard-back book in my hands cannot be replicated. I am conditioned to associate that feeling with comfort and the intimacy with the friends I find. The sound of pages scraping as I turn them, the weight of the book, the smell of paper closed up and rediscovered... one of my top five smells is the basement of the public library in the town where I grew up, where the children's wing was. The musty smell of a book can bring me to tears.

For many years now, I have imagined myself growing old on in the country, with a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, and some goats... opening a used bookstore in a small town and selling coffee and homemade pastries in the mornings. I want to be there for another little girl who is searching for someone that understands, who will also cry with joy over the pages of a book because oh, I understand. I know there have always been people like me, and my husband. Books have changed the world. Books have killed people, saved others. I hope with all my heart that books will still be around in 30 years, that there will still be enough of us to keep my dream alive.

No comments:

Post a Comment