Lord! When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships as sea by night—there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book. ~ Christopher Morley
Medicine for the soul ~ Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes
The earliest memory I have of being able to read by myself is when I was sitting aside a twin sized bed in my grandparent’s home. My aunt/godmother was there beside me as I read to her without flaw the entire text from The Three Billy Goat’s Gruff. Upon closing the hardbound book between my tiny, porcelain white hands, my aunt/godmother just looked at me with a mix of utter astonishment and pride gleaming from the twinkle in her eyes. With arms folded around my petite shoulders, she whispered, “I am so proud of you!” then sent me on my way. I later overheard her exclaim to my parents the genius of my reading ability. I was four years old.
For as far back as I can remember, probably before that reading encounter with my aunt/godmother, I carried a book in one hand and writing utensil in the other. As I read and referenced, I copied diligently the words from the books and tried my best to memorize prose. Often, I would max out the renewal time period for the books I had borrowed each week from the library. It was often painful for me to part with a book after I fell so hard for its words. It dawned on me one day to record my favorite parts of the books in order to savor the words of my new literary friends. This way, I could read them whenever I chose and recite them in my heart and mind. So, I kept notebooks full of the sentences that were most compelling to me, the words that struck my heart so deeply, and the passages that haunted my mind as I tried to fall asleep at night. This is probably how my love of literary quotations was born. I have found wisdom and delight, and heartbreak and hope in just about every book I have read.
When my family moved to Ohio, we bought a brick cape cod in the country set on about three acres of wooded property. Other than the haven of my bedroom, my favorite spot at my childhood home was within the comfort of my dad’s sun-faded crocheted hammock set under the shade of twin white birch trees planted on the front side of our lawn. Often, I could be found there among gathered library books, covered with a soft blanket, and a refreshment beside me as I sought to be lost in a new world, eager to encounter different literary friends or foes. To this day, I find nothing more inviting than a shaded spot in nature from where to encounter an innovative tale. The library and any bookstore around remain a close second to my nature spots, especially in the cold winter months. I could gladly lose hours of my life among the stacks of any library or between the shelves of a bookstore.
On social media, I expressed gratitude for books and their authors, libraries and bookstores, and for the lasting treasures that books bring into lives. In the spirit of literary love, I am curious to know: What are you reading today? And, what is your favorite book from childhood?