Now that kids are back in school here, I was thinking about how great it was to read just what I wanted to read when I was a kid. I would send away for books and eagerly await their arrival. Some of these were ones that I wasn't allowed to check out of the library or weren't available there. I remember my fascination with reading all of Robert Ruark's novels on Africa. I remember reading Gone with the Wind and wondering what the hell was wrong with Scarlett. I remember reading all of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and wondering about the meandering sentences of Faulkner's great novels. Just the titles would make me dream: Light in August, As I Lay Dying, Intruder in the Dust, the Sound and the Fury. It was only later after I read the biographies that I learned that these literary greats were alcoholic and had a lot of other issues going on. But at that time, I didn't realize that their writing was linked with their pain.
Reading has always been one of the best ways that I know to relax and stay serene. It is like a journey for me. It was also an outlet for a small town dreamer. After all the years, I still find great comfort in books. There are stacks on the night table. I have the daily Al-Anon readers, the Big Book, the AA Twelve and Twelve, a couple of books on islands in the Chesapeake Bay, and a book on oceanographic discoveries. That's this week's pile.
But in the days when school was out and I could read as much as I wanted, I would collect books for my own library. My tastes were eclectic then as they are now. I had natural history books, art books, and novels. I would open each carefully, smell the pages, drape my long legs across the porch glider, and read until dark would come. It was magic for me. And it pretty much still is.