Monday, January 31, 2011

"Throw The Book At Me"

I've had a life-long love affair with books.  Books are a magic carpet ride that take us to places mundane or exotic and introduce us to new people and afford us the opportunity to share in the life experiences of someone else.  Unlike movies, which are the equivalent of a sprint, books allow us an extended stay somewhere and with someone who we get to know at a leisurely pace.

Whether married or single a reader can fall in love with a character in the book without guilt or threat of exposure.  A book also gives us the chance to "be" the character in the story.  Nowhere else can an accountant become an astronaut or knight or lap dancer.  Through the magic of image and word we can travel the world without trip fare or reservation.  

I've waited in lines for driver's license or jury duty or airplanes and I'm rarely without a paperback book to ward off frustration and anxiety.  A book wards off loneliness when no other solution is available.

When I want to re-visit my Oklahoma heritage I can turn to "The Grapes of Wrath" and see the faces of my parents and grandparents and sister and brothers.  As the Joads travel westward for a promise of a better life I can still feel the road beneath me as we rode in the back of a pickup truck with sideboards.  Magic!

When I am frustrated with myself at not being published I can open up Wouk's "Youngbloode Hawke" and find myself sitting in plush publishing house office as I am offered an advance on book royalties.  I can hold that first copy of my book, fresh from the printing house and marvel as if it were my first child.

When I'm stuck at home and can't afford to travel I can open up Steinbeck's "Travel With Charley" and have a grand old time sipping kitchen whiskey with Steinbeck and saying hello to fellow travellers.  Or I can open up Least Heat Moon's "Blue Highways" and commiserate with him as he motors the secondary roads in the old panel van to find sufficient perspective for resolving marriage dissolution and career considerations.

When I get tired of the mad rush of too many people I can open Stephen King's "The Stand" and imagine myself in a world poorly populated and prepare for a great moral challenge.  Or with King's "Gunslinger" series I can travel back and forth in time.

When I can't actually visit historic Civil War sites I can read Foote's three part history of it and if I want to meet the participants I can read Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" and witness that horrible war in more human terms.

When my little dogs sense my state of sadness and climb up in my lap and nuzzle to comfort me I can recall  'A Dog's Purpose"  and "The Art of Racing in The Rain" and really believe every word written.

When I want to read of the love of a woman I can read the poetry of Rod McKuen and when I want to read of the love of mankind I can read Whitman's "Leaves of Grass".

When I want a mystery I can luxuriate in the humorous dialogue of Robert B.Parker or I can sail off from harbor with John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee.

I now do my reading from a Kindle.  Though not as tactile pleasing as a book the Kindle gives me convenience in both reading speed and price.

I can only imagine what life would be without books; how else does one fill the vacuums of time in their life or learn what is happening in their world?

Pardon me, I must go now.  My magic carpet awaits!


Crystal said...

I feel the exact same way about my books. A friend recently suggested that I donate some of my books to the library since I have boxes and boxes of them. I had to explain to her that I'm saving all my books so that when I'm an old lady living alone I will never truly be lonely. :)

Darlene said...

I too am so enamoured with my books and a good story. It drives your brother crazy that I too, like Crystal, have stacks and boxes of books! Of course as you know I have my beloved Kindle but alas,,how DO you bring yourself to empty the shelves of all your old friends!?

Anonymous said...

As an avid reader myself, I have quite a collection of tomb collecting dust on my shelves. I have recently discovered that it is better to share by books, by giving them away, then to horde them like some miser. Too few people read today. Do your part and 'share' that gift, by sharing your books.

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks for your comment. Since I got my Kindle I have donated many of my books. However, Kindle does not have all authors available so some of my books are still paper and available for re-reading which I do often. Many people keep their books for re-reading.