I’ve loved words, paper, books for as long as I can remember. Dad claims I learned to read because he had a habit of falling asleep while reading to me and I wanted to finish the stories. I “pretend wrote” before I learned my alphabet, filling pages with scribbles that looked kind of like words to me.
Once I could read I had a book with me all the time. And after working through the stack of library books I was sometimes forced to find something else. So I’d go to the bookcase at the end of the hall and see what I could turn up. This is where I discovered the poetry of Wendell Berry. Short stories by Ray Bradbury and Alfred Hitchcock. Essays by Andy Rooney.
It was an eclectic mix tucked away there by my parents and it taught me to be willing to try just about any book that was at hand. Something I’m still happy to do–although I’ve learned not to finish them if they don’t suit me.
This week, Dad brought me that very bookcase. It’s now situated in the back bedroom and I’ve finally gathered up the loose, homeless books scattered all over the house and given them a permanent home. And there’s still room. Heaven.
The bookcase isn’t an especially beautiful piece. It has some simple carving and feet that raise it up off the floor. It had doors once a long time ago, before my family knew it. The holes for the hinges are still there. It could stand to be refinished and there’s some dust in the cracks. But I want it just the way it is. Just the way I remember it when it was my ticket to other worlds, new ideas, and a love of reading that has served me well.