Thursday, September 16, 2010
The magic of books
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.