For the Love of a Good Book!
Even though National Reading Month is in March, I wanted to share with my readers the birth of my life-long love of reading books. Whether you prefer an ‘old-school’ proper book you can hold in your hands and turn the pages, or you prefer to use an e-reader, book-lovers the world over share a bond in the love of reading.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved to read. I was one of those kids (and adults) who can tune out everything when my nose is buried in a book. Reading a book I am really enjoying is an escape of sorts, I can’t even explain where I go to at those times.
When I was a child, we lived in Sacramento and my dad was a maintenance/custodial worker at the local elementary school district. It was a fairly poor, downtrodden part of the city, and we were poor as well. We lived there until I was about nine, when we moved to the country. My mom worked, so in the summers when school was out my dad would often take me with him to work since I was too young to stay home alone. My parents could not afford summer day care, so sometimes a relative would watch me in the day time, but many days I would go to the school and spend the entire day there, mostly alone, while my dad worked. It was my school, so I knew my way around. In the summer was when the building maintenance workers would put on a fresh coat of paint, wax and polish all the old oak hardwood floors (that is what schools were like when I was little), and do other necessary repairs.
It was such an interesting, albeit surreal thing, to be back on the grounds of my grade school, with not another child or teacher in the place. Just a few maintenance guys, like my dad. I had the run of the place. Sometimes I would hang out in the custodians’ break room, a large room filled with unwanted flotsam left over from classrooms, such as a really big old chalkboard. I had a lot of fun with that chalkboard. I used to write numbers on it and see how far I could go, especially if it was really hot and I didn’t want to go outside. I was maybe 7 years old at the time, and I would often go all day and only see my dad when it was time for lunch. And I was an only child, so the isolation was complete. Since I knew no other way, I did not mind.
But my absolute favorite thing to do on those long summer days? My dad would unlock one or two of the grade school classrooms and let me play in them all day! As long as I did not mess anything up, and everything went back where I found it, I had the run of the room. Can you imagine what exciting fun that was? So many things to look at and play with! Every classroom had a shelf or two of books – children’s books, most of them educational of course – but books! I read every book in the entire school during those summer days. There was also a small library, and best of all was when I could spend the day in there. I was never bored, believe me!
To this day I can remember a few of those books. One I particularly liked at the time was a book about a hermit crab. It seemed like fun to be a hermit crab, and to change houses all the time. Another one I liked at the age of 7 is a book I would probably toss on the fire today – it was about a hickory nut that came alive, lived in a neat little house and was very independent. The story fired my imagination at the time, but later when I came across the book again as an adult, I realized it was a cautionary tale. It was trying to teach children the importance of conforming and being part of the herd, and not trying to go against the grain. Miss Hickory was finally harassed so much for being different that she finally gave up and went back to her tree. I hope no copies of this book still exist. But if you ever see a children’s’ book called ‘Miss Hickory’, toss it, is my advice.
I learned a lot about dinosaurs, and prehistoric times, and horses, and just so many things. And I was never bored. At the end of the day my dad would track me down in whatever classroom I was in, lock up and we’d come home. I am certain my love of reading came from those days. A book is a treasured old friend to me. I do hope that parents are still introducing their kids to the pleasures of reading, even if it is on a Kindle – reading fires the imagination like nothing else can.
I am also one of those people who loves to read an old favorite again and again. Some of my personal can’t-live-withouts: Pride and Prejudice, the Complete Sherlock Holmes, the Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters, anything by Georgette Heyer, any of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers, and of course, the Lord of the Rings. Weirdly eclectic, isn’t it. But they comfort me, these old friends.
If you like, you can send me your reading story, and your personal favorites, and I will include them in my blog. You can contact me through my website, at www.disfiguredseries.com. I’d love to hear from a fellow book-lover.