Thursday, September 16, 2010

The magic of books

I have been reading tonight until my eyes are bleary.  It's the text for the course I'm taking.  I really enjoy reading and have since I was a kid.  I was encouraged by my parents to read, and I had varied and eclectic tastes. 

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 small town library or weren't available there. The librarian had an idea that no young man should be reading D.H. Lawrence.  She censored a lot of books.  My mother would often have to send a note with me telling the librarian that I was allowed to read whatever I wanted. The librarian would "harumph" but allow me to check out the books because of the note (and fear of my mother).

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.  And some of the novels of that time gave me my first ideas about sex and how to be a man.  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 solo sailing around the world, and a book on restoring an old schooner.  That's this week's pile. Next week there may be something different in the mix.

I like to remember those summer 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.


  1. I love reading too Syd. On trips to 'the big city' with mum when I was a child, the first visit would be to a large bookshop. She would buy a book and she always allowed me to choose one too. Reading is a pleasure that has stayed with me all my life.

  2. ah i love that kinda magic...i have been an avid reader since i was a kid...and the smell of them is so alluring...

  3. Great post on reading! I love to read too.

  4. Syd, I still order books and await their arrival. There's nothing more relaxing than spending a moment or two on a rainy Tuesday afternoon shirking my work long enough to browse the bookstore...

    And, the smell of a vintage bookstore, mmmm

  5. The smell of books, libraries and bookstores (new and used) are truly alluring! It's why I'm not quite sure about this whole kindle/nook thing...

    The crisp or not so crisp pages, the beauty in the wear on the edges, the binding, the smell, the different type faces.


    I love books, I love the world of possibility that opens with each page turn, with each paragraph.

  6. Reading is one of the things I consider a guilty pleasure.

  7. Love this Syd. I have had a lifelong love affair with books. I was born with it, I think.


  8. I feel the same way. I love the smell and feel of a book, and for that reason, a Kindle will never be found at my house.

    Love you, Syd. Have a great weekend.

  9. Oh Syd, I have missed you.
    Books were my best friends growing up. I love Fitzgerald and Steinbeck, and Hemingway it was such a treat to arrive at college and have a retired prof in his 80s who knew these great men when he was a young man and teach a course on them.

    Lawrence and Joyce... I loved them too. And Tolstoy. I loved Tolstoy.

    I have to check out Ruark on your say so. I never heard of him.
    I am getting a Kindle from my sister for Christmas - and I am afraid I will never use it. I want to hold a book and electronic books, while neat, just won't cut it with me., you know?

  10. Interesting to learn as you get older that many of the authors were alcoholics and/or addicts. I guess that has been the case since the beginning of humankind. Reading was for me the one constant in my young life and has been the greatest help to me throughout my life. I have learned to much and loved every book for its own merit. I like how you describe your mother encouraging you to read what you want.

  11. You named many of my favorite authors. I too, grew up reading. It was my escape for living out in the country when all my friends lived in the city. I love my books, and I also have a stack by my bed, with usually two going at a time.......

  12. I was the kid that every summer would ready every single book on the summer reading list, not just the mandatory three or four books.

  13. Books have been a source of inspiration, comfort, information and wisdom, since I was a very small girl. Through books, I have taught myself how to type, sew, do stained glass, garden, cook, use a computer and paint.
    Reading has kept me sane when all around me was chaos and noise.
    A trip to the library is a trip into possibility; when I arrive home with a bagful of books, then pick one out and sit down with it, I sigh with satisfied content.
    A novel transports me, a biography fascinates - although I don't read biographies of well-known figures much, I prefer reading about people of whom most of us have never heard, but who have played a pivotal part in our progress as humans.
    I love the musty smell of old books and I love to dig through used-book stores - I never know what gem I'm going to find.
    I was so happy, when I was told that Al-Anon had published books for me to take home and read.
    Great post, Syd.

  14. Ah! You stirred up a wonderful memory for me Syd.
    When I was a kid in 5th grade I read "Catcher in the Rye". My teacher at school had a fit! She did not think I should be reading that book, what with the bad language and all. My mother and her had it out. My grandmother was the librarian who let me check it out. :-)
    Fortunately I only had Mrs. S. for a teacher for a few short months, but oh what a time!

    Now I work in a library. Times have changed and you need a Masters Degree to be a "real" librarian, but at least I'm in the building as an "assistant" and working with books all day long. :-)

  15. Man. And with that post- I realize we have a LOT in common.

  16. I feel lucky that my mom was big into books. I remember in the summer we had to read so many books. I loved going to the library but I was ADD and didn't have too much patience for reading so my mom would read to me. When I was older we read the Bible together before going to bed. I didn't turn into a reader until highschool and started reading sci-fi and now I also have a beside table full of books. I am still ADD so I usually read 3 or 4 at the same time.

  17. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures in life, Syd, and I love the fact that your Mother let you read what you wanted. I knew a librarian who tried to censor the readers and I always wondered where she got the gall to think that it was her mission to do so.


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