My love affair with books began well before I was old enough to feel even the most remote attraction to another human being. Boys were loud and obnoxious, and generally they had a strange smell. I wasn’t interested.
But take me to the little carousel library in town, and I could get lost in there for hours. I remember sitting cross-legged, perusing the kids’ section. Beverly Clearly, Nancy Drew, Judy Blume, they were my happy. This was before I discovered Blume’s novel Forever, mistakenly shelved between Freckle Juice and Fudge-a-Mania. At the age of nine, I will never forget reading this young adult novel, recounting a very detailed sexual experience. At nine! Why the librarian allowed me to check that book out, I’ll never understand, and how my mom never caught the error is beyond me. But I read it, front to back, multiple times.
The little pamphlet my mother had given me on menstrual cycles and pregnancy were no longer necessary.
The name Ralph was forever lost as an option for one of my future children.
And my taste in books took an abrupt change. The kids’ section was no longer appealing; I figured after having read Forever, I had informally graduated to the rows and rows of adult choices.
Truly, I’d been exposed to some of the most vulgar literature of all time long before this, I just couldn’t comprehend it at the age of three. With my head on my great-grandmother’s lap, I’d fall asleep to the lyrical words of Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth as she ran her fingers rhythmically through my hair. I still have those little books, and I marvel that I never once complained about her reading choices. I just loved the sound of her voice; it didn’t matter what words were raining down on me.
Books provided hours of entertainment in a world with very few toys and none of the electronic device distractions of today. Every other week, my mother took us to the local library, and I painstaking selected my seven books, which would be returned within two weeks. Often, the two of us finished all of our selections before the due date.
We had very few books of our own growing up, but my current home tells a very different story. There are books of every genre, every age level, old and new. I have so many books, in fact, that there are boxes and boxes in a storage unit, just waiting for the day when Riley leaves for college and his room is transformed into a library.
When I first got sick, I was too fatigued to read. Then my vision was unpredictable. When I finally could see again, focusing caused massive headaches or seizures. Then the brain fog set in, and I could read and reread the same lines and still not comprehend what I’d just read. I began to understand the struggles of many of my students.
The more I felt like I was losing the gift of reading, the more obsessed with books I became. I was so sick I don’t remember much from this time period, but I know this….I bought A LOT of books. Contemporary ones, classics, nonfiction, self-help, spiritual, young adult lit, books on Lyme disease, essential oils, writing. It was as if the further my health took me from my favorite hobby, the more desperately I needed to surround myself in the safety of books.
It was a bizarre act of hope. I would get better at some point, darn it, and I would read each of those beautiful books. To give up my books meant to give up on me, on my health, on my fight.
Now, I’m thankful to be able to dive into those overflowing bookcases. I love the way a book feels, and I adore its smell. I like to annotate the text and dog-ear the pages. As a teacher, one of my favorite questions was, “Mrs. Whiston, do you have a good book for me to read?” Oh, the challenge!
Which is what has led me to create Between the Covers. Each month I will make two recommendations. I like having one nonfiction and one fiction in rotation at all times. Anyone who enjoys curling up with a good book is welcome to join this book club. Just go to the BtC Facebook page and JOIN. Simple.
For each recommendation, I will provide a direct link to the book on Amazon. As an Amazon Affiliate, if you purchase the book(s) through this link, a portion of the proceeds will be received by A Broken Crayon at no additional expense to you.
Because life is hectic, this book club will be predominantly online. There will be no specific meeting date in someone’s living room. Instead, we’ll post comments along the way. Mid-month, I will post a daily question, and if you have time, you can respond. At the end of the month, we’ll give each book a rating. Oh, there will be free give-aways in the future as well!
So, if one of your new years resolutions is to read more, I’d love for you to join us! You may choose to read both books or just one. That’s the great part about this book club; it’s all about reading great books and connecting with others however best fits in your life. Are you excited? I sure am!