Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Power of Books

Heavy. Thin. Yellowed. Dog-eared. Falling apart. Just published. Pristine. Annotated. Highlighted. Passed down from friend to friend. Handed from father to son. From mother to daughter. Used as: coaster, door-stop, shelf-support, self-support, escape. Loved.

Get there. From here.

What are books to you?

What do they mean?

Why do we read so much?

Why are books so powerful?

All good questions!


For me:

Ever since I locked the door to my room and got right comfortable on my childhood bed with Marguerite Henry's Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West -  actually made an appointment with it, as if meeting an old friend for the first time - I just knew. I was a reader.

Books were my way of dealing with riding the school bus. We were always the last ones on, me and my older sister, and by the time we climbed the three tall steps onto the monstrous yellow thing, it was like a circus descended into chaos. Kids sprayed perfume into each others' eyes. There were spitwads, there was goading. Skittles launched from one end of the mile-long vehicle's interior to the other, inevitably leaving a red mark on one's forehead that wouldn't disappear for an extraordinarily long time. There were never enough seats, so we'd cram in three kids, I - inevitably - in the middle. Only just enough room to crack open a book, and there I sat, inanimate and sealed off from the ruckus around me. Ah, the wonderfully public and yet private experience of reading. R. L. Stine, you got me through those hellish childhood years.

From To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

As years went on, I discovered this: given any opportunity to have time to myself, I will most often be reading. This is probably not healthy. Ah... reading.

It's taken me to a midnight living room with socks hanging damp over a crackling fire.

It's introduced me to the woods in summertime, where fairies are helping others survive a war.

It's made me cry when a man walked away from a woman who was lost.

It's brought me into the arms of a slave who added a pebble into a jar for every day he spent with daughter (5,840). It invited me to feel his anger when she was sold off, and the jar was smashed, and the pebbles flew everywhere.

It took me into the pasture where a black horse spent time the happiest years of his life with his friends.

The power of books? Books turn the mind, make you imaginative. And slightly insane with the beauty of it all.

I would not wish reading on anyone. I would wish reading on everyone.

Tell me, what's your favorite book and why do you read?

Happy Saturday, faithful readers!

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