All I Need Is A Good Book
My home resembles a library. I am a reader. Books control my life. Books line my shelves in every room. For a long time when I wanted to find a favorite book I found myself wandering from room to room searching the shelves. Finally I organized them by authors’ names. What a monumental job. It took days. Now poetry lives in one corner. Theatre holds forth in another. Fiction authors A through C are in the living room, along with most non-fiction. The rest of my fiction resides in a room dedicated solely to books. I cannot resist a good book. I buy books new. I buy books used. When I accidently purchase a book I already own, I pass it on to a friend. I read for pleasure. I read to learn. I read for the beauty of language.
Typically I kick-start my day with coffee and my current book. In the summer I work in my garden in the cool morning hours. In winter I head for my shop. When I take a break, it is with book in hand. Sometimes I read a page or two—sometimes soar through several chapters. I’m disciplined. I have rules. I don’t read at the dining table. One day while hovering over a page-turner, I discovered my plate was empty but I had no recollection of eating. Also I don’t read in bed. The first book I remember staying up all night to finish while lying in bed was “Gone with the Wind”. So I read in a chair and reserve my bed for sleep. Neither rule is ironclad. I have been known to falter and fail.
If I am not busy I often read a book a day. I read eclectically. Classical literature. Novels. History. Poetry. Physics. Art. Trash. I love it all. Therefore these last three weeks have been unusual. I actually quit reading. Cold turkey. By necessity, not by intention.
Why did I quit reading? I simply over-scheduled my life. Not on purpose. I am a busy person. In these three weeks I had an opportunity to take a financial education workshop. A three-day class reunion immediately followed. Then company arrived on my doorstep. My garden suddenly burgeoned forth with bounty. Strawberries insisted on being picked daily. Raspberries ripened in time for me to take a batch to the reunion. I had a sudden opportunity to take a trip to Washington to visit my grandchildren. The day before I took off, I picked both red and black currants, Saskatoon berries and four more gallons of raspberries. I cleaned them all and bagged them for the freezer to await jelly making on my return. Work projects needed to be finished. So many things to do and I needed to do them all.
Everything seemed to happen at once. Each morning I prepared my to-do list for the day. Each evening I fell exhausted into bed, list unfinished, too tired to read. I pined for my books. The stack next to my reading chair accumulated a thick layer of dust. I a newly arrived box of four books, lingered over the titles, ran my hands over the covers and reluctantly added them to the pile of unread books on my footstool. I prepared a bag of books to take on my trip.
When I arrived at my son’s home in Issaquah I selected the book I most wanted to read next and set in on my bed table. But life is full. We crammed our days and nights with activities. Whenever I glanced at my book I broke into a cold sweat. No time to read. In my sleep I dreamed about reading. Four days later I still had not cracked the cover.
This morning I drove to Marysville to spend a couple days with my daughter and her family. When I walked in the door she hugged me and handed me “Heaven’s Prisoners”, a novel by James Lee Burke, a favorite author of ours. “I can’t start this. It’s a library book. I can’t take it with me. And I’ll only be her two days. How will I finish it?”
“Go ahead, start,” she tempted me. “You’ll not be able to put it down.” She pushed me into a chair. My hands shook. I caressed the cover. I lingered over the title page. I could no longer control myself. I read the first page, then the next and the next. And the next. Doomed. The End.
HDN: Looking out my back door
August 4, 2011