Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash
It’s Valentine’s Day, and as bouquets of flowers are delivered to my co-workers, I’m finding myself sitting at my desk wanting to share my love story — with books. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. I remember sitting in second or third grade and being enveloped by stories as my teacher read them out loud. I discovered Nancy Drew when I was in fourth grade and devoured them as quickly as I could get my hands on them. My sixth-grade teacher introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkein when he invited a group of us who were avid readers to read it as a group after school. I’m not completely sure whether it was The Hobbit that was so attractive, or the extra time we’d be allowed to hang out in the reading loft we had in our classroom, but I jumped right in and found a love for fantasy comparable to my love for mystery.
In seventh grade, my English teacher offered up What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (probably more recognizable as The 4:50 From Paddington) by Agatha Christie. I was utterly enthralled with Dame Agatha’s ability to weave a mystery so completely, and seemingly so effortlessly as I breathlessly reached the end of each of her stories and waited for Miss Marple or Monsieur Poirot to unravel the threads that identified the murderer in their midst. Eighth-grade English introduced me to Ponyboy and Sodapop and Johnny. I learned how important it was to “stay gold.”
Also around this time a brand new library branch was built just a couple blocks from my house. No more waiting for a bookmobile or being limited to the books in the school library, or bugging my parents to take me to the nearest public library, which was several miles away. A whole new world opened up to me and I would ride my bike down to the library several times a week. The summer between ninth and tenth grades I read 93 novels, thanks to the proximity of that library. My dad hung a hammock in our backyard, and everyone in my family knew that was where to find me that summer after I’d done my daily chores (and sometimes before).
Since that time I have always chosen to read as much as possible. It’s my escape from the everyday. It’s one way that I find happiness. It brings me peace when life gets turbulent.
Books are magic. They transport me to places I’ve never been, to new worlds. They introduce me to characters of all shapes, sizes, colors and temperaments. I can visit the past. I can travel the universe or stay right at home. Because of books, my eyes are opened to possibilities, problems, perspectives, and people I might otherwise never have contact with. I can fall in love over and over and over. I can revisit my favorites places and old friends time and time again.
Maybe some of you feel the same way.