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Monday, February 6, 2012

Good Reads

Some shelves in my library.

 Books.  I have had a lifetime love affair with books. I started working in a library at age eight.   I stamped borrowed books with return dates and shelved returned books, mostly.  It took a lot of discipline not to sit down with the books that most intrigued me and start reading.  Instead, I kept lists.  Lists of books to borrow, lists of books to read.  Since third grade, I have kept an ongoing list of titles that I would recommend to others.  I considered the possibility of becoming a librarian so I could share my joy (and knowledge) with others. This love of books morphed into a dream of having my own library...someday.  In preparation, I started weeding out books that I owned, keeping only the ones I felt certain I would want to read again and reserving gift books.  When I left home at seventeen, I had boxes of books that I intended to add to my fantasy library.  
Two titles fell out when I was moving one of the boxes to my first apartment  --“A Friend is Someone Who Likes You “ and “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”  I thought there was some real humor there. Jerry Seinfeld makes a joke on his show asking why anyone would want to keep a book once it had been read. At that moment, I was revealed as one of those crazy ladies who scream at their television sets. I yelled loud enough for our neighbors to hear me, “Books should be opened, again and again!” but Jerry didn’t answer.   He must be unfamiliar with the satisfaction of tracking down a passage he read ten years ago in order to locate the precise wording.  My first library was set up on boards stretched between concrete blocks.  Eventually, my husband built bookshelves to house some of my collection.
It wasn’t until 2006, when we built our home, that my library was installed. It was like Christmas morning. With the help of my daughter, we started shelving the books I had gathered for just such an an occasion.. For the the rare tome that made the cut, I wrote my name on the inside cover and slide it between two older books.  I donated the boxes of rejected books to the League of Women's Voters of Amherst.  Each time, I shelved a book in my library,  I felt a frisson of joy and pleasure.  Because books are colorful and full of images, they look like art.  They have been an escape and a solace over an entire lifetime. 
I have a Kindle that I am learning to use. It is particularly practical for me when I travel because it cuts down on the weight of books I typically carry.  I discovered a website that culls books and puts forth suggestions for avid readers.  I find it satisfying to know I am not alone with my penchant for books.  Recently, I realized that many of my friends have libraries of their own.  It was not a perquisite to building our friendships, I did not screen them before bringing them into the fold.  Their libraries were simply the natural expression of our shared love of books.   

My latest read.
  Check out this website!  Great lists and recommendations of good reads.

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