My Life in Books

Not everyone can say this, but I still live in the same town where I was born.  I was temporarily away, as I was raised twelve miles outside town, but in western Kansas that meant I could practically see the hospital from the farm.  I spent a summer in New Jersey in the 60s, a boyfriend thing.  I lived on yet another farm two counties away for almost 35 years, a marriage thing.  Even during those first-marriage years, though, I wasn’t more than a half-hour from my birthplace.  And now I’m back.

You might be tempted to think that my life has been deadly boring, but you’d be wrong, even though the potential was certainly there.  On the contrary, thanks to the wonderful world of books, I’ve traveled just about everywhere and gotten to know people I’ll never forget.  My mom, a woman blessedly ahead of her time, started reading to me from approximately the second I popped my head out in the delivery room, and she did the same for my sisters and brother.  Books were always a hot topic of conversation in our house and pretty much nothing was off-limits if we thought we were big enough to handle it (other than the fascinating volumes I discovered in my parents’ closet, but that’s a story that shall never be told).

Our mom fully understood that reading holds the power to ward off prejudice, ignorance, and dullness of spirit.  We all shared the isolation of the farm, but she had no intention of letting that shape us for life.  We even got by with ducking work sometimes, as long as it was for the sake of a book, the unspoken agreement being that we had to make sure no sibling saw it happening.

If you locked me in a room with only a bodice-ripping romance novel for company, I’d scan it for erotic parts, strictly in the interest of Continuing Adult Education, but I wouldn’t read it.  I really don’t think I could.  I’d rather count fly-specks on the walls or stains on the carpet.  If that makes me sound like a snob, I apolo … um, no, I don’t, it’s the truth.  But that’s just me … I’m not judging.

Give me a great biography or autobiography, a historical novel, a sophisticated mystery, a realistic crime novel or true account, an entertaining travel journal, stellar fiction … then walk away and I’m not likely to even notice.  A question I’ve never been able to answer … “What’s the best book you’ve ever read?”  Impossible!  Usually it’s the one I just finished.  I crawl inside every good book I read and live there until it’s done.  And then I take time to mourn just a bit before I pick up the next read …

A Reader

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 10:31:33

    I remember Mom taking me and a sister to Hutchinson library because for some reason we got dibs on some of the discarded books. By the time we drove back home (and you know that drive!) Gina and I had made a fair dent before passing the easier books to the other 3 siblings upon arrival. Later, Gina would make library slips to put into the existing card holders, then make us check them out. I still have my “valid” Reese library library pass 🙂

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  2. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 18:15:06

    I also grew up in Kansas (rural). The love of books saw me through many a summer. Once a week when my mother went into ‘town’ for groceries, I was allowed to go to the library and check out the maximum number allowable. I’d read through the children’s floor before the end of fourth grade and had to have my parent’s signed waiver to start on the adult floor. Reading equaled education and like you and your brothers, I occasionally escaped chores when I was reading.

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