Lost in a good book (or twelve)…

Holidailies 2012After finishing the fantastic Gone Girl this morning, I went to the library today (something I do about once a week), and it got me thinking…

I’ve always been a voracious reader.  One of the best things my parents have given me is a love of reading and books.  Even as a kid, the bookshelves in my room were filled to overflowing.  And the rule in our house was if you could understand it, you could read it.  Which was truly a gift.  There were trips to the library and trips to the bookstore.  There were lots of discussions of what we were reading and lots of lazy afternoons spent reading.

As an adult, my father and I, in particular, have made many trips to bookstores that always result in stacks of new books to read.  And my father, a man who doesn’t really ever buy much for himself, has always indulged in books.  There were memberships in the Quality Paperback Book Club and the Book of the Month Club, a way to bring in a new haul of lots of books for not much money.  And his favorite place for discount books, Daedelus.  It’s where we’ve often found some of our family cult favorites, like Tom Mix and Pancho Villa and Checker and the Deraillers and Flicker.

And we are a family of book neurotics.  None of us can travel without plenty of reading material.  And that means books to spare.  It’s always necessary to calculate how long your trip will be and how far into the book you are currently reading, in order to know how many extra books you’ll need to bring with you.  My father always has at least one book in his car, along with several magazines.  I always have to make sure there’s something to read in my purse, whether commuting to work or going to the movies (need something to read while waiting for the movie to start!)  Though this has become somewhat easier in recent years with the Kindle app on my phone, having enough to read is still always a nagging concern.

The ability to buy books as I wish has been a luxury that didn’t feel so much like a luxury, but more like a necessity.  But, the reality of limited space, especially in a New York apartment, has over the years made it a challenge.  When I was working, it wasn’t really about curtailing purchases, it was more about deciding which books were worth keeping and which to donate, in order to conserve space.  Now, though, with my shelves still overflowing, it’s about the fact that books are expensive.

Thankfully, in the past 10 months I’ve rediscovered the New York Public Library and have made great use of my library card.  Amazingly, checking books out of the library or downloading them, pouring over my lists of holds and list of books to read later, has continued to feel like a luxury, but also, an absolute necessity. It’s an essential ingredient in keeping my head on my shoulders and my perspective intact.  When things are really bad, I can’t manage to read — and that just makes everything worse.

Which is why I know that right now, I’m doing okay.  I’m continuing to read.  I’m reading books and magazines and newspapers and online articles and I’m losing myself in fiction and educating myself with nonfiction and aggravating myself with fiction masquerading as journalism (a thought for another day), and I count myself lucky.  Another moment to be thankful for the time to read and the gift of access I have to just about any book I want.

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