I can relate to
books everywhere and the love of reading!
A snippet from Eleanor Brown’s novel, The Weird Sisters –
She turned to look back into the living room, one dim light behind our father’s favorite sun-paled orange wing-back chair spreading shadows over the opened books that covered every surface despite her attempts to keep them orderly. Our family’s vices–disorder and literature–captured in evening tableau. We were never organized readers who would see a book through to its end in any sort of logical order. We weave in and out of words like tourists on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Put a book down in the kitchen to go to the bathroom and you might return to find it gone, replaced by another of equal interest. We are indiscriminate. Our father, of course, limits his reading to things by, of, and about our boy Bill, but our mother brought diversity to our readings and therefore our education. it was never really a problem for any of us to read a children’s biography of Amelia Earhart followed by a self-help book on alcoholism (from which no one in the family suffered), followed by Act III of All’s Well That Ends Well, followed by a collection of Neruda sonnets. Cordy claims this is the source of her inability to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time, but we do not believe her. it is just our way.
and . . .
The library drew Bean down the street, as it had drawn all of us over the years. Our parents had trained us to become readers, and the town’s library had been the one place, other than church, that we visited every week.
and . . .
How can we explain what books and reading mean to our family, the gifts of libraries, of pages? Even at Coop, the tiny professor-run cooperative school we’d attended, a refuge of overly intellectual families, we were different. “What do you mean you don’t watch television?” one girl asked Bean. She was new, her parents visiting professors who passed in and out in one calendar year, their sojourn so brief Bean cannot even remember the girl’s name. She remembers only the strange furrow to her brow, signifying the complete and utter incomprehension at the idea of a life without.
Except to us, it wasn’t a life without. It was a life with. For Rose, a life where, after our weekly trip to the library, she cleared the top of her dresser, and set out her week’s reading, stood them on their ends, pages fanned out, sending little puffs of text into the air. One of her friends, a little girl with sunken blue eyes and parchment skin, laid her costume jewelry out in the same way, and even then, Rose had recognized the metaphor, standing in her friend’s white wicker bedroom, looking at the sparkle of paste, to her, dull by comparison. For Bean, a life where the glamour and individuality she sought was only the gentle flick of a page away. For Cordy, always slightly detached no matter how many people surrounded her, clucking for her attention, a life where she could retreat and be alone and yet transported.
In New York, Bean chose the subway because of the reading time it afforded, free of questions but not of distractions–the frotteurs, the over-the-shoulder-readers, the panhandlers, the nosy parkers with opinions going spare–though Bean rapidly learned to dispatch each one of these with ease while keeping one eye moving down the page. She remember one of her boyfriends asking, offhandedly, how many books she read in a year. “A few hundred,” she said.
“How do you have time?” he asked, gobsmacked.
She narrowed her eyes and considered the array of potential answers in front of her. Because I don’t spend hours flipping through cable complaining there’s nothing on? Because my entire Sunday is not eaten up with pre-game, in-game, and post-game talking heads? . . . Because when I am waiting in line, at the gym, on the train, eating lunch, I am not complaining about the wait/staring into space/admiring myself in available reflective surfaces? I am reading!