Monday, July 31, 2017

They're Not Just Books!

     I've loved books since I was gifted my first one by a family friend on my tenth birthday. Books had played little role in my life until then. They were absent from our postwar Belfast bungalow, my parents not being readers. There were books at  school, of course, but upon grasping that  "Little Women" was my own to peruse as often as I wished, I was hooked on reading for life.
     After sixty years of collecting, my home library now numbers in the thousands.  I lend, give away and  donate frequently, even as bookshops and thrift stores lure me in to gather more, often on the same day!  A prodigious reader, I burn through many volumes in a year, in genres ranging  from fiction to biography, geology to true crime, and everything  in between.

     Books were what got me through a troubled childhood. However chaotic  my home life, however lonely I found myself to be, I had my books to turn to. They offered consolation when needed, along with the promise of a gentler  future, a reminder that was sorely needed amidst each day's ongoing drama. 

     To me, cradling a book is akin to holding a loved one's hand. Found there is memory, trust and the shared history of years. If it is a book given to me by a friend or is one equally cherished by them, then for a moment that friend is right there with me. That is a source of great comfort to me.

     I've come to realize that books are not just a part of  a home...books are a home to me. They have unfailingly provided me with respite, contentment and stimulation in varying amounts. I don't consider any book to have let me down, however mediocre the story or meagre the content. With every page read, I learn more about the world, and about myself. What more could I want?

     I am contemplating a move, and am trying to winnow down my possessions. I care little for such things as dishes, clothes, and furniture, but deciding which of my old friends to keep is a bigger challenge.

      I know I will never part with any book written by  the Bronte Sisters, who have inspired me to write since I read the first sentence in "Jane Eyre".  I have not a fraction of their talent, courage or the tenacity needed to achieve what they did, but their shared spirit continues to awe and inspire me.

     And how can I let Jeffrey Archer go, he of immense story -telling skills and fascinating life? My major collection of archaeology, history  and forensic books are must-have references and I cannot contemplate giving away my theatre scripts or my volumes of Shakespeare.  Harry Potter stays, as does Jane Austen. The stack of Irish writers I've amassed also remains as does a shelf of beautifully bound and weathered English Literature classics that have been read and reread throughout  the years.  As for my numerous art book so carefully sought out over decades..could I seriously let them go?

You see the challenge I face. Books have provided one of the true constants in my life. I do own and eReader, have books on CD and book apps on my  iPad and iPhone, but the  hard-covers stacked beside my bed offer a comfort nothing electronic could ever give  me. 

           Books influence everything I do. Going into a strange house, the first thing I look for are the bookshelves...and the dogs.  If I find neither books, nor dogs, I begin to wonder why I'm there. And I both love, and hate, knowing that no matter how many books I read, I will never get to them all.

 That said, I mean to give it my best shot.

 Must run... literary places to visit, characters to meet, old friends to check in with, and many unread books to devour before I part with them.

  I'll be in my library, should anyone need me. 
 Just ignore the Do Not Disturb!


Sherry Blue Sky said...

I echo every word you have written, as books have been the same comfort and solace to me, for the same reasons. When I moved, I stripped a whole wall of books down to my special favourites and it is odd now, to have only one bookshelf of treasures - the ones I could not part with. We MUST catch up. I need to hear about the possible move!!!!!!!!!

Lynette Killam said...

I have been horribly remiss, Sherry. Sending you an email tomorrow...

Fireblossom said...

It's always wonderful to hear about someone who loves books the way i do! I, too, found books to be a survival tool growing up, and they remain one of the most profound pleasures in my life. I enjoyed both the post and the pictures very much. :-)

Lynette Killam said...

Thank you for the kind words, Fireblosson. It’s always good to meet someone who empathizes and understands well the comfort a book can offer.
I set up a sofa bed in my home library yesterday for overseas visitors coming soon. Do I even need to tell you I got distracted and stretched out with an armload of old favourites to peruse? Lol. It may be hard to keep me out of there now!

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