The summer after I finished Grade 3, my parents took a three-week trip to Ontario. We three children stayed with relatives, the last week with my grandparents. When my parents' car drove into the driveway, I raced down the stairs, out the door and into their arms. I cried with happiness at seeing them again. After the hugs and kisses, they opened the trunk of the car and pulled out gifts for us. For me, two books: The Wizard of Oz, above, and Little Women. Little Women was discarded just a few years ago, for I re-read it many times.
The other book in the above photo, "Nurses Who Led the Way" bears the inscription, "To Lorrie from Valerie Collins, 1966." Valerie was a school chum and fellow book worm. These two books are worn and falling apart, but when I look at them on the shelf, handle them, and flip through their pages, these memories return.
As my husband and I left for a year of Spanish language study before moving to Ecuador, my mother-in-law handed me a gift, with an admonition to keep it wrapped and tucked away until my birthday, three months away. I would have kept the promise but for termites who found their way into our closet and munched away on the books. We taped them together and they've been read and re-read, both silently and aloud. I know that I could replace them with more intact versions, but why? These are so much more interesting.
Books have always been portals into strange and exciting worlds where the cares and concerns of everyday life fade like dust behind me as I plow into the life created on the page. It's unsettling to me to not have a book to read. I usually have several on the go. I read to learn, to escape, and to think.
I cannot remember learning how to read, only that I devoured the printed page from my earliest school days. Now, as I handle books from my past, I treasure not only the stories they tell on the pages, but the way the books themselves have become part of my personal story.
What role does books play in your life? Do you enjoy reading? Did it come early or late? Can you remember learning how to read?
Mary, from the Little Red House, will be putting up links to more book posts tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing what other bloggers have to say or how they photograph their books.