Earlier this week, when I was back in Ohio visiting my parents, I was reminded of where my love of reading was born. No matter where you look in their house, you’re bound to see a book. They are in built-in bookcases and free-standing ones. They are sitting on top of desks and nestled in baskets and perched precariously in stacks on top of chairs. Downstairs are the novels my parents cherish and upstairs are the ones I adored from my childhood that my mom has so lovingly saved. I loved growing up in an environment like this, where a dazzling array of miniature worlds existed within the four walls of where I lived.
When I moved into my new place last year, one of the first things I purchased was a set of bookshelves for my living room, which now proudly display the books that I’ve collected over the years. I have a considerably smaller amount than my parents (they probably have upward of 1,000) but it’s a collection nonetheless. Although some find the purchase of books frivolous, being surrounded by them brings me an immense amount of joy—when I peruse a bookstore or walk around a library or run my hands across my own collection, I swear I get the same feelings I do when I am hugged by someone I love.
The year I was pregnant with my daughter, I read 68 books. I decided that being pregnant was the perfect excuse to get in all the reading I could before my days became filled with the amazing, wonderful demands of motherhood. Sometimes I’d even read out loud, convinced the early exposure to Zoey’s growing ears—even if the words were terribly muffled—would help instill a love of reading in her before she entered the world. After Zoey was born, they changed from fiction and memoirs to picture and board books, but I didn’t care. Just like my parents had done with me, I relished being able to share my love of the written word with my daughter. A book is never far from her hands, so I think it’s safe to say I might have accomplished my goal.
Between working and blogging and being a mother, it’s hard to devote the time to reading that I would like. But as I type this, I’m sitting on a plane flying home, and I am surrounded by people who are doing the very thing I love. I see paperbacks and hardbacks and Nooks and Kindles. While I’m a purist and prefer the real thing, I appreciate that the rise of e-readers puts novels into people’s hands that might not otherwise be inclined to pick one up. I look around at the pages being flipped—both real and virtual—and it brings a smile to my face. My daughter sits beside me with her spring break reading, and it gives me an idea.
I’m going to take this opportunity to throwback to something I love: I’m going to flip down the top of my computer and flip open a book instead. With every page I turn, I will be transported to not only to another world, but also back to the places of my own past that created my love affair with books:
- I will remember the sound of my mother’s voice reading me my nighttime story.
- I will remember my father saying that while he might not buy me everything I asked for, he would buy me as many books as I wanted.
- I will remember the excitement of getting my own library card and experiencing the wonder of having row after row of books that were available to take home and enjoy.
- I will remember crawling under the covers as a child with a flashlight and a story when I was supposed to go to bed. And I will remember going on a trip as an adult and staying up into the wee hours of the morning so I could finish David Nichols’ One Day, a book I tore through in the span of 24 hours. I will remember how I had escaped to the bathroom for light so I wouldn’t wake anyone up, and I will remember the taste of the tears that streamed down my face as I turned the book’s last, heartbreaking page.
- I will remember one hand resting on my stomach, feeling Zoey’s tiny kicks and delicate hiccups, lifting it only to turn the pages of the book my other hand held.
- I will remember unpacking my books after my new bookcases were built, and how, as I put them away on the shelves—one by one—I felt as if this simple act was laying the foundation of my new future. Although they held their own stories, they also held the story of my own life, and the new books that would find their way next to the old ones would hold the stories of all the things yet to come. I will remember thinking that this co-mingling of words and covers and pages, this mix-up of the past, present, and future, would turn out to be the best story yet.
As I open my book—or any book for that matter—I will remember all of these things, and I will be happy.
So tell me: Do you love books? What’s your favorite one? Do certain books transport you to a specific time and place?
At the Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.