Monday, May 2, 2011
I love books.
I love that they are solid and the pages vary in thickness. Some have hard glossy covers, some have muted grey covers and some have soft flimsy covers.
I love to have books on shelves, table tops and night stands.
More than that, I love the way books make me feel. Connected to myself, to the deepest layers of my innermost feelings. That with each book I read, I feel like I’ve peeled back a sliver of my soul and exposed another part of my being.
I’m not going to lie, not all books generate such divine levels of enlightenment, but even a Dr. Suess book can provide deep memories and evoke feelings from my childhood. At the same time, Dr. Suess can connect me to the present as I recite “Green Eggs and Ham,” for the thirteen thousandth time to my bright-eyed toddler. As I read the story aloud, I can almost see her imagination swirling around as she ponders the various places to enjoy the delicacy with the company of “Sam-I-am.” I can reflect back on the days I read the story to my son, now an official “tween,” and know that on the purist level, we shared laughter and smiles that only a book can provide. Those feelings and moments connect me two-fold, with myself and my children.
Sadly, there are some books that I don’t read past page three. Then there are books that I’ve read portions of, dog-eared the page and put back on the shelf or in a drawer with full intentions of returning to…when I have the time. Unfortunately, more often than not, they stay put, never to be picked up again. Oh but I still can’t bear to part with them. Because I know that some day, I will return to those books with this goal in mind: to finish reading each and every page. It’s as though I can’t admit that not all books are created equal. Hanging on to them is sort of an obsession, but I would not call it unhealthy… don’t go calling “Hoarders” on me. I do admit that it might be strange that I am still holding on to some college texts. But, you never know when you might need that handy reference material and hey, maybe I really enjoyed that class on public speaking or human sexuality...
The truth is, a real page-turner, well I just can’t put it down. I read with the fervor of a student cramming for an exam, almost to the point of exhaustion. I’ve spent many a night up until midnight anxious to find out what happens next. I feel so engaged and connected to the story that somehow I’ve weaved myself in…maybe as the quiet observer or the know-it-all sister but more often than not I identify with the heroin and can find eerie similarities to our personalities, almost as if this story has been written about me. Am I really engaged or does that make me an narcissist? God, I hope not!
Why not buy a “Kindle” or a “Nook” you might ask? Well, the fact of the matter is that I am old-fashioned when it comes to books. I genuinely like them and holding one in my hands, turning the pages and feeling the scratchy paper beneath my finger tips is one of the reasons I enjoy them so much. Yes, the story is the entertaining part. But…to me it’s like shopping for jeans. You don’t just pick out jeans off the rack; you have to try them on. Sometimes the first pair is the one, a rare treat. Sometimes you have to try at least 30 pair only to leave empty-handed. The bottom line is you never know if they are going to fit until you’ve spent some time in the dressing room.
Strolling through the book store, perusing through fiction or health and wellness (my two personal favorites) takes time and effort. A flashy cover might get my attention at first, but once I open it and read through a page or two, I decide if that book is going home with me or will remain on the shelf alone until some other interested reader finds its pages intriguing.
Through books, we discover that our potential is limitless. Our imagination is free to run wild and there are no rules about which way the story goes within our mind. We are directing the movie in our head and the boundaries of ordinary life no longer exist. We can paint colorful backdrops and create unique characters. The images we construct allow us to express our own ideas and connect to the story, the writer and to ourselves.
Have you ever heard a person argue that “the movie was much better than the book?” Quite the contrary...a movie based on a book is someone else’s vision of the story and they’ve made it personal, their own interpretation. Can we blame them? If we all had access to creating films, wouldn’t we want to put our favorite stories on the silver screen to share the beauty and joy of our own vision?
Reading is an adventure. When we pick up a book and open its cover we begin a journey. We explore our consciousness and conjure up vivid portraits of people and places. We imagine the people we might meet and places we might travel to some day. We connect ourselves to these ideas and images and there is nothing more beautiful than the picture coming together in our mind.
Books are so much more than bound paper and words. Books (and their authors) inspire us and give us hope. They allow us to dream and to dream big. They give us knowledge and power, power to change our lives and the world around us. They teach us compassion and patience. They allow us moments of escape and give us the opportunity to change our lives.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I love books. Oh, and the writers ain't so bad either.