For the Love of Reading…

books pile up by my bed

I can’t go too long without reading. Sometimes it’s pitiful: if there are no books handy I will read the back of the cereal box, or the instructions on the medicine bottle, or even the miscellaneous scraps of lists and receipts in my purse. I try desperately to avoid sinking to that level and thus carry a book with me wherever I go.

What started such a terrible, wonderful addiction? Why it’s my mother’s fault, of course! I’m sure she must have read to me when I was little. There are still a few well-worn picture books around from when I was a toddler.

As we got older, we had an every-week, never-miss, family tradition: on Friday afternoons we went to the local library and filled an entire box with books. That evening, all of us could be found sprawled around the family room, eating popcorn and turning page after page in those lovely books we had just checked out.

Even today, if I walk into my folks’ house unexpectedly, I will often find my mom laying on the couch, reading yet another book from the library. Nowadays, she even keeps a card catalogue of every book she reads and might want to reference or re-read someday.

a small corner of our personal library

I confess that I have passed this addiction on to my own children. Trips to the library are an integral part of the week. Favorite birthday and Christmas gifts often include books. Bedtime obviously means reading until you are tired or until mean-Mom insists on turning off the light. No matter how we try to organize, piles of books end up everywhere. No matter how we try to cut back, and cull duplicates and no longer used books, our personal library continues to grow.

In more than one location, librarians have mourned the announcement that we were moving. As a family we have apparently single-handedly increased their circulation, thus increasing their funding! Even when we spent 9 months roaming the western USA in an RV, we found ways to use the libraries. If we couldn’t talk our way into getting a temporary library card for a few days or a week, they often had used book sales so we could stock up before moving on down the road.

There is a poem that I discovered years ago, the ending of which sums up this addiction quite nicely

 “You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.”

–Strickland Gillilan

Wishing YOU the wonders and joys of such an addiction!

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