Mom and I used to go to the Green Valley Book Fair all the time. We’d drive over the mountains toward Harrisonburg, forgetting every time that we probably need to stretch before we arrived. On arrival, we’d gear up with as little as possible so that we could have our hands free to carry, and off we’d go into two GIANT warehouses of books.
Most of the time, our arms ached with the joy of unread pages by the time we got to the car. It was a sacred time for us.
It’s something Mom and I shared – this love for books and the stories held in them. She introduced me to Susan Cooper and Ellis Peters, and I turned her to Matthew Pearl and Oscar Hijuelos. Often, I urged her to read something very “literary,” something I had studied or was teaching in a class, and she sometimes tried them but mostly passed. She knew what she wanted to read, and it was something to take her away, to give her mind a rest from the way she lived in the daily world – active, aware, compassionate.
So when my amazing mother-in-law suggested we go to the Book Fair yesterday – on Mom’s birthday – it felt perfect – if a little hard to be in this wonderful place without my mother. Like my mom, ML – P’s mom – gave me a generous gift to spend, and I walked those corridors scooping up Vampire Academy novels and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ memoir. But mostly, I just relished the memories of Mom, her arms loaded high with mysteries and fiction, Spanish-language books for the kids on the farm and stories of Alaska for Dad.
It almost felt like she was with me, and maybe she was. Maybe she was.
Who introduced you to books? What books are you inclined to read most often?