I have a long love affair with books. With stories. With words. Longer even than my love affair with drawing, but only by a year or two.
My husband knows about this affair. How can he not? He helped me pack 55 boxes of books last time we moved. The back wall of our suite is all shelves of books, two rows deep. I’ve probably added three more boxes since we moved in two years ago. That makes the current total 58.
This love affair, in other eyes, looks like an obsession. Or maybe a difficulty with hoarding.
Only someone who does not love books would think that.
My parents read to me when I was two years old. A story before bedtime. Thus begins the love affair and my book collection.
I have a whole series of Dr. Seuss Beginner Books. Some by Dr. Seuss. Some by P. D. Eastman (Go Dog Go is my favourite) and others. Purchased by my parents, month by month from a book club, when I was in elementary school.
I memorized the whole of Dr Seuss’ Fox in Socks. Dad and I recited it to each other on a long road trip. He’d been reading it to me and my sister repeatedly. We kept asking for it as the bedtime story, so of course he knew it too.
The Beginner Books still exist in my library. They made their way through the hands and minds of my sister and brother and, years later, my son. They are tattered and dog-eared, and some pages are a bit torn. They hold their venerable beauty, sitting next to newer, tidier books in my library.
My Grade One teacher, Mrs. Johnson, is forever my hero for teaching me to read.
My Grade Six teacher, Mrs. Green, is forever my hero for reading my every effort at writing stories and poems, and for introducing our whole class to J. R. R. Tolkien’s world. She read us one chapter of The Hobbit at the end of each English class.
When the book was finished, I borrowed it from our public library, and read it again. Twice through, laying on my stomach on my bed, in the evenings after doing the supper dishes with my sister. All week, Monday to Friday, and then all weekend too. Mom had to come into my bedroom to call me for meals. I was walking in Middle Earth and could not hear her calling from our kitchen. Pure magic.
I can track the progress of my life through the books I’ve read and the writers I love. I wait in anticipation, and sometimes impatience, for their new books to reveal themselves in the bookstore or the library. I savour the words and the imagination and effort I know exist behind them.
What am I reading right now? I am alternating between Absolutely on Music by Haruki Murakami, and Make It Mighty Ugly by Kim Piper Werker.
Haruki’s book is in hardcover. I love his writing so much, I do not wait for the softcover copies to show up. I can’t wait that long.
Kim’s book is a perfect find from one of my favourite art supply stores. Someone wisely places books among the art materials. This one was in among the sketchbooks and journals. I bless the store worker who placed it there just for me to discover.
Right now I have eleven new books waiting to be read, fiction and nonfiction. This comforts me, knowing that when Kim’s or Haruki’s book is done, I can go directly to my bookshelves and choose something new to begin.
My life would not be my life without books, without stories, without words.
I would not be Cat-The-Writer-And-Artist without the writers who create and share their stories with me. All my life, they’ve given me permission and inspiration to imagine, to take pleasure and enjoyment, to create my own worlds and stories.
Thank you books and writers for your huge gift in my life. Thank you for my love affair.
In this post:
P. D. Eastman, book Go Dog Go, Beginner Books Division of Random House, 1961. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._D._Eastman
Dr. Seuss, book Fox in Socks, Beginner Books Division of Random House, 1965. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss
The Dick and Jane Readers series. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_and_Jane
J. R. R. Tolkien, book The Hobbit, Unwin Books, London, Third Edition, 1968. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien
Haruki Murakami, book Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, Bond Street Books, Canada, 2016. http://www.harukimurakami.com/
Kim Piper Werker, book Make It Mighty Ugly: Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty, Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 2014. http://www.kimwerker.com/