Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Passion

"We read to know we are not alone." - Anthony Hopkins, as C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands

I love books! I haven't always loved books. I hated to read when I was a child. When I was in second grade we moved to Montana from Colorado and I couldn't remember what books I'd read so they put me in a special class to help me with my reading. That year they wanted to hold me back a grade but because they made the mistake of telling my mom that because I was short I would fit right in with the kids younger than myself. Fools! My mom said, "no." I don't remember feeling as though I struggled with reading. I just didn't like to do it. When I was 13 I came down with strep-throat and was bedridden for a week. My step-mom, an avid bibliophile herself, bought me my first romance novel. In retrospect, it was a TERRIBLE book called, Promises and Lies, but I ate it up!! For the rest of my teen years, other than school books, I read romance exclusively. My senior year I was in Advanced Placement English which opened my world to other forms of writing and though I can't say it greatly impacted me then, it does now.

In my early 20's, I had the pleasure and delight of working for one of the greatest book stores in the world, Tattered Cover Book Store. At the time I was there, it was a 40,000 sq ft building filled with wonder and endless adventures. It was there that I learned the joy of browsing. There is something so spectacular about wandering around a book store... so much anticipation and possibility. It reminds me of the opening line from Sunday in the Park with George, "White... a blank page or canvas... so many possibilities." I love to wander through the sections picking up the books with titles or covers that intrigue me. I'll open the pages and read from there. Am I sucked in? Do I want to find out more? My "to read" list numbers over 150 titles. So many books... so little time. I recently realized that I have a book ritual. After making a purchase, provided it's multiple titles, I'll go home, pull them all out of the bag and then stack them neatly by my side. One by one I pick them up, read the back, sift through the pages, smell them. Then I stack them in the order that I want to read them. There is so much joy in that experience. I love new books. It's almost as though I get to be the very first person on that journey... no one else but me has been there before. I love to read a book at the same time as a friend, sharing the experience with another and being able to talk about it can heighten the joy of finding out what happens next. Though, I must confess, I'm terrible about waiting to find out what happens, so it's not unusual that I'll read the ending first or flip through the last pages until I find out what happens. Some believe that it spoils the book... but for me, it makes me more excited to find out the journey of how they got there.

The closest I've ever come to experiencing that feeling is when sitting on an empty stage. My junior and senior year of high school, I would turn on the stage lights, leaving the auditorium lights off and just sit there. Sometimes I'd study... but mostly, I'd dream. I'd dream about my future and what awaited me.

Today, I run a book group and last year I read 75 books. I'm not going to read that many this year because there are other things that I want to do... and as much as I love books, it does take time.

I was at the book store today and picked up: The Book of Awesome, Bird by Bird, and Writing Down the Bones, in addition to a title for a friend. As usual, I've stacked them up and selected my next read. I hope to finish The Happiness Project today. I'm excited to start my own project... my mind is sparkling with ideas! But, it will be sad to finish it at the same time. I've been so inspired.

Today I'm grateful for: 1. large, white snow flakes that were a surprise (I hadn't realized it was expected to snow), 2. the possibilities that await between the covers of a book, and 3. having two days off in a row.

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