I loved our visits there. Mom stopping to drop a slick stack of hardcovers off at the desk while I slipped back around the corner to the young adult section, too sold on my age to believe that what Mom read on those main stacks held anything for me. . .
The shelves – just 18 or so of them – were not that full, and the YA books were only on one side, the plastic-draped dust jackets crackling and ready. I would dive in willy nilly and pick up a book, look at the cover – I have always been drawn to covers of midnight blue, which may be why I always paint my office some shade of indigo – flip to the jacket copy, and then, tuck it under my arm. My only criteria was whether or not I had read it. Really, the only criteria.
By the time I graduated from high school, I had read every book in the young adult section of the library. I’m not exaggerating, but then, well, there weren’t that many books, right?
Yesterday, I sat at my in-laws’ house while P and his dad did work outside and his mom relaxed in her room and listened to Tana French’s The Likeness while I stitched tiny x’s into the fabric of the sampler I am sewing for P. As Cassie Maddox has a quiet encounter with a suspect in the Ivy behind an old house, as she defies her supervisor, as she spirals just a bit beyond control, I settle and stitch, my racing heart the only sign that I am engrossed, engaged, captured by story.
Today, I have dipped a toe into Joel Salatin’s This Ain’t Normal, Folks and consumed a chapter of Preston Yancey’s Tables in the Wilderness. Last night, I read from The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meiere. I find myself consumed by books again, an absence barely noticed in the first blushes of love and marriage to P.
For me, reading is like love, like the full embrace of it, the way it tucks me in and holds me up and stands nearby even in the most frightful abhorrent moments. So when love – full, real, wide – enters my life, books slip away for a time. . . until the steadiness of life with this man I adore becomes real in ways that live like habit.
Then, books call me back . . . again and again because I want to finish them – all of them – to look at the shelves of the world and know I have no missed anything, not a word, not a precious, precious story.
Now, my hometown library has grown. More space means more books – now 32 shelves of slick-covered novels. I don’t frequent that section as often – although I do take in a great number of YA books. But now, I also seize on the stories my mother grabbed up – the mysteries, and the great sweeping mysticism of Susan Cooper. Some day, I will take to all of Flannery O’Connor – may she forever rest today, as on all days, 50 years after her death – and devour her, imbibing some of Mom in those words, too.
For words tie me to Mom, to the writer, to the characters, and to every single soul on this great, clay-packed earth. They are some of the greatest gifts I have ever received, and I am grateful for each of them . . . midnight blue or not.
How do you feel about books? What do they give to you? What kinds of things do you read?