Posts tagged love

Books, Books, Books

Bibliophile: (noun) a person who loves or collects books, especially as examples of fine or unusual printing, binding, or the like.
 Wikipedia says, “Bibliophilia or bibliophilism is the love of books. Accordingly a bibliophile is an individual who loves books. A bookworm is someone who loves books for their content, or who otherwise loves reading… The classic bibliophile is one who loves to read, admire and collect books, often amassing a large and specialized collection.”

I would classify myself as both a bibliophile and a bookworm as I both love my books and I love reading. I have always been this way. I first identified with a character in a book when I read of Elinor Loredan in Inkheart. Her heartbreak when her library was destroyed brought tears to my eyes. My books are some of my most precious objects. As much as this book is a children’s series, I enjoyed the idea of being able to read the characters out of books – not that I would want to really do that since the characters removed from their stories are all sad and do not fare well in the “real” world.

I grew up on books. My mother was an ESL teacher and my father loves novels. My siblings are both avid readers. All our houses are stuffed with books and bookcases. Even my grandparents and great aunts loved to read. I was reading shortly after I first began kindergarten. Back then, most didn’t learn to read until grade one. Consistently, I was in trouble from teachers for reading (or daydreaming) instead of paying attention. I didn’t do well in school because I spent more time reading than doing my homework. I still spend much of my time lost in a book – or five.

I’ve done some crazy things while reading. I don’t just limit myself to reading before bed or in the bath. In fact, I don’t dare start reading before bed or I’ll be up until four in the morning so I can finish the book! My baths tend to be two hours minimum. I read while cooking, read while eating, read during commercials, read while in line, read while resting, read while walking, read outside, read while taking out my contacts! If I could figure out a way to read while in the shower, I’d do it! Any chance I get, I dive into the world I’m currently reading.

Reading a book is like watching a movie in my head. Only, in my movie, I am the heroine, the superhero, the sorceress, the mermaid, the lover, the adventurer. I see all. I know all. The character’s life become my own, his journey mine, his agony mine, his world mine, his loves and hates mine. I vividly see each and every described item. I hear the voices; see the plants and animals; live the life. I have cried at the end of a particularly enjoyable book just because I feel the loss of a well loved “person”. I have sobbed at the loss of a poignant character, as though that fictional being had been a real individual I had known. 

Someone who has not experienced books the way I have cannot understand this. To someone outside of this, I am crazy, a nerd, a weirdo. I am those things. But I am also so much richer as a person from the extent of those things I’ve lived within those books. I am hardly ever bored. I can discover the most amazing things just by staring at the patterns on a blank wall. I put myself to sleep going over the adventures I have lived that day in my chosen book.

This deep enjoyment I get from reading transfers to the books themselves. I love the feel of the cover, the weight of the book, the slightly musty smell or new paper smell. An e-book is not the same. I can’t fall into the story the same way as I do with a physical book. It is lacking in some fundamental way. I found a “poster” on printerest the other day and it resonates completely: “The idea of e-readers taking over and the art of printed literature dying out makes me want to cry.” I completely agree.

So I build and build my library to the reaches of the ceilings and still books spill off the shelves and into other rooms. They pile in the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the living room, the kitchen, the office, the family room, the den… I try and downsize by getting rid of the ones I read but didn’t love but it’s fighting a losing battle. My dear husband is going to make me another set of shelves to surround and go over the doorway between the den and the family room. I can hardly wait! Already I can see how it looks and it looks wonderful!

I don’t quite know how to end this blog. For me, it is like a miniature version, perhaps a small chapter, of the life and mind of me. I’ll see you later. Maybe I’ll even meet you somewhere within the pages of my favorite books…

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Baking Bread And Memories

Recently, I started baking bread to help cut the cost of feeding a large family (there are six of us). I make four loaves at a time and they all love it. As I began the journey of this intimate way of looking after my family, it evoked deep memories of bread making with both my Mom and my dear great Aunt. The motions were familiar, even though I couldn’t say I actually remembered doing it.

My Auntie Flo died on Good Friday in 1988 and I was crushed, destroyed, devastated. I had been struggling with depression issues from fourteen years old and then, at sixteen, I had just had my first boyfriend break up with me when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. For my whole childhood, Auntie Flo had been my companion, my friend and the only adult I felt truly accepted me as me. I was always good enough for her. She never expected something from me. We spent many happy days together, baking, taking short walks in the sunshine, talking about life. She loved for me to play old songs on the piano and to hear me sing. I felt happy when I was with her.

She had lost much of her eyesight and much of the use of her legs from diabetes. She was hard of hearing too. And in the midst of all these things that could have made her into an angry, resentful old woman, she was the complete opposite. I never saw her without a beautiful smile. She sang while we worked around her little senior’s bachelor suite in the old folk’s complex. She never complained about hurts or disappointments. She listened to me. She cared about me.

I remember vividly being told she had passed. I knew she was sick. She had been carried out of her suite in a coma a few months before. I never visited her in the hospital which I deeply regret. My needle phobia was in full swing then and I was mortally afraid of hospitals, doctors and needles. So bad I couldn’t see a needle, say the word needle – even see a drawing of one – without going into a full blown panic attack. I was doing dishes at my best friend’s house. Her mother asked me to put down the plate I was drying and gently told me that Auntie Flo was gone. I think my heart broke. I remember utterly wrenching sobs being torn out the depths of my soul, just before we were to leave for church to sing for the Easter service. Her request was for me to play “How Great Thou Art” at her memorial service. I have no memory of that service or of playing the song there.

There are times when I talk to her, as she watches from Heaven. At least, I’d like to think that she looks down on me from time to time from the happiness and joy that surround her there. I tell her about things, about how my life is going, about how I can’t wait for her to meet my children. I think she’d love them.

The thing I remember doing the most with Auntie Flo was baking – cookies, cakes, squares, candy – we did it all! There is an old picture of her, my brother and me making cookies in my Mom’s kitchen. It is one of my favorite pictures of her. She has her back to the camera and I am bent over the table, both of us focused intently upon the cookies, while my brother watches. I am about six years old in this picture. To me, it symbolizes our unity of mind, our similarities, even though I am six and she is in her seventies. Our postures are the same, our focus is the same, and our enjoyment in creation is the same.
So now, as I once again bake bread on this day, I feel close to her. I sense her looking over my shoulder, cheering me on. Those batches of cookies and squares I make for the kids’ lunch treats bring me a peace and love that I imbue into the baking in turn. I show my love for my family and for the remembrance of my beautiful Auntie Flo.

We did it together. We did it with love.

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