Yesterday, I had the luxury of sitting on our back deck and reading for several hours straight. It was slightly overcast, in fact it started to rain a few times, but I had just enough cover sitting close to the back door of the house, and Lilly lay under my chair, so she was protected, too.
I finished a wonderful book call The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. The setting is a little book store on an island in Massachusetts and it's all about people who love books, and it's full of conversations about books. No wonder I liked it.
One of the lines that resonated with me is near the end. (I'm not giving anything away in quoting it.)
My life is in these books. Read these and know my heart.
I love that. In my book club there are some of us who collect books and keep copies of all of our favorites. There are others who choose to read a book from the library, or borrow a copy, or buy it to pass on. Sometimes I wish I could be like the latter, and live with less clutter in my life.
But, alas, I am the former. I collect books. I like to have my favorites close by on the shelves near my desk. I look at them and they are not just old friends, but like mentors in a way. Does that seem silly? I've learned so much from reading the pages that I couldn't bear to part with them. Never mind, too, that I have a terrible memory and I fear that if I were to give them away I would forget all those wonderful stories and bits of wisdom.
The books I keep have in some way touched my heart. They are on a variety of subjects and by many kinds of authors. Everyone from well-known authors like Willa Cather to privately published books by bloggers I have come to know through the years. I like fiction and non-fiction alike. Biographies, classics, modern literature, history and there's even a Stephen King tucked away on one of the shelves. (But only one).
When my mother passed away, my brother and I had the bitter-sweet task of going through her books. She was a book collector, too. There were so many familiar titles, books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Clan of the Cave Bear, and the entire Jean Auel series. I remembered how she loved those stories and I was glad to be able to take those books and add them to my collection, as though I could somehow recognize and glean just a bit more of her wisdom and her heart by reading those stories. Sure enough, reading about Francie Nolan growing up in the streets of Brooklyn took me back to so many stories that Mom shared about her childhood.
There are many books that I keep, because I loved the story and because I shared the experience of reading it with someone special. It's like our hearts connected at that point. The Origin by Irving Stone, is one of those. It's the first book I remember reading that my father suggested to me as a young girl, and I felt so grown-up that he thought I would appreciate such a story.
The love of books. It doesn't just end there. It truly is a way to share your heart with someone, to be able to speak when you can't come up with the words yourself. I'll never be able to give mine up, so luckily I have a wonderful, handy husband who is able and willing to build me bookshelves to fill to my heart's desire.