Friday, March 2, 2012

Crazy Book Love!

Books are SO important!!
I can't write two words without one of them being about books, can I? But today I've got a great excuse: Yesterday was World Book Day in the UK and Ireland, and today is NEA's Read Across America. Two very good reasons to write about curling up with an old favorite or a new discovery.
In case you hadn't noticed, here at Tumbledown EVERY day is Book Day. And you wouldn't have to get far inside my front door to have that all figured out. Books take center stage here. They cover all horizontal surfaces. They stand two- and sometimes three-deep on the shelves. They're stacked waist high on each available stair step. There's a tower of them tottering within inches of my side of the bed. They concern the heck out of my parents, who I'm sure imagine my body one day being unearthed from beneath a stack of them, squashed completely but with a smile on my face. And, for the record, it's not unusual to find more than one copy here of my personal faves.... It's like I'm saving them from something. Giving them a good home. OK, hoarding maybe, but let's not call it that, 'k? At least not in a paragraph that includes my folks who would love to see me admit it in writing.
Do you remember the books from your childhood, the ones that paved the way for a lifetime of book love?
An older neighborhood friend of mine took 6-year-old me to a book sale at her school and I used the 30-cents in my pocket to purchase two grade-school readers: The Wishing Well and Three Friends. I read them up, down, and sideways, and studied the watercolor illustrations until my eyes fell out of my head. I still have those books. And rereading them now takes me back a million years....
And I can recall a spring weekend in Third Grade spent curled up with Felix Salton's Bambi, gleaned from a shelf in the Monroe Elementary School library that the Librarian there cautioned me I was still too young to read from. A chapter away from the ending I stopped and had a good cry. My mom discovered me and asked about my tears. I said, "Have you ever read a book so good that you didn't want it to end?"
And then there was Enid Bagnold's National Velvet, read semi-annually since the day I first discovered horses until the day I first discovered boys (and picked up again almost immediately, as horses were way more interesting -- :->). I learned to draw from its illustrations. I learned to love England from its text. I dreamed of being Velvet Brown and even wrote away to the stewards of the Grand National for race maps and particulars. I learned to like tea with milk and loads of sugar.
I didn't make friends with Louisa May Alcott or Lucy Maud Montgomery or discover The Secret Garden until I was a young adult, all married and away from home. They nurtured my soul when my soul desperately needed nurturing, and I think they were put in my hands at just the right time. (And I'm still a little embarrassed recalling the moment a co-worker walked into the office and caught 20-something me at my coffee break, sobbing over Little Women's 'Beth.')
I taught myself to read as a child, then read the days and weeks and months and years away. I do so still, and can think of no other way I'd rather spend my time. It even trumps drawing (but only just). And, in case you haven't already guessed, I could bore you forever with my fond book-related memories. SO -- I'll simply end here and ask: 
What were your favorites?

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