I used to read a lot.
I loved Library Day each week at school. I loved the possibilities lying in wait on the shelves. The characters, the stories, the adventures! The books all seemed to whisper at me all at once. I loved the smell of books, the collections upon collections of series!

The Babysitters Club
American Girls

I borrowed The Work and The Glory from my friend’s mom in 7th grade. I tried my hand at classic literature now and then, and when I was finally able to digest a page in less than a month AND understand what it was talking about, I began devouring F. Scott Fitzgerald and all manner of Janes: Jane Eyre, Jane Austen!

As I grew up, I found less and less time for reading. In college, I spent all of my time reading music instead of books. After my miscarriage, I floundered around my studio apartment, hungry for comfort but unwilling to ask God for it because I was angry with Him. So I bravely put on pants, bravely stepped into sunshine, and bravely went to the campus library. In the books, I was Home again. I could smell them, feel them -characters hiding away in yellowed pages, whispering their own narrations.
I made my way to the classic literature section -always and unfortunately the least crowded section in the library. I put a few Austens under my arm and checked them out.
Once I was home and out of the scary sun, I curled up on my creaky bed in my dirty studio apartment and I read. I read for hours, and I fell asleep when I fell asleep and I read when I woke up. Jane Austen’s plot lines have always fallen a little flat, but her characters are round enough to MORE than make up for it.
I limited my diet to Oreos and I literally blew through a box of tissues.
I found my comfort. Was it the best kind? The most filling kind? Well, no… not if we’re talking about my SOUL. When I turned the last page and ate the last Oreo and wadded up the last tissue, I still hurt. I was still very much empty.
I could have checked out more books, bought more Oreos… but I knew after a week’s time, it was time to go back to school. It was time to face the ugly music of a life without a life in my belly.

The blessed ending of this tale is that I ended up with life in my belly much sooner than later, and that life grew and grew and screamed her way into, around and through Mother Earth. I quit reading because I was busy keeping up. That is to say, I quit reading for soul food. I found myself reading all kinds of INFO books that told me What To Expect and gave me 1,001 Baby Names and taught me The Proper Care and Feeding.

All those “helpful” books burned me so bad I quit reading ALL TOGETHER.
Several years later, my husband gave me a walnut-stained bookcase for Christmas. I put it together myself which means a few of the shelves are upside down, but I like it. My husband has offered to fix it, but I insist on leaving it.
The bookcase reminds me of my ME ness, and I like seeing the hardware on the outside sometimes. As I pulled my books out of storage and lovingly put them on my shelves, I felt an old spark deep down in my gut.
It WANTED those books.

I leafed through pages. I smelled a few pages. I threw away a few books that were were cool when I was 17 and absolutely insipid at 27.

I could hear the whispers coming up through the yellowed pages, and I longed to listen to each one individually -to dedicate a week to each one! But by then I had two little kids, so I simply put the books UP and left them there. I was pacified with the books at least being seen instead of in storage bins.

I have three kids now.
I’ve given up on keeping up.
And the burns from the helpful books have healed.

I’ve found myself slowly awakening that vital part of me that NEEDS yellowed books that smell like attics. They have antiquated bodies and timeless souls, and THAT ALONE makes them something I can not live without!

I can’t stand much fiction written after 1960, but I know there’s goodness to be had. I finished a book last night and immediately picked up another one and as I did I could almost hear the fans in the stand standing up in unison and giving a shout, “She’s BACK! She’s BACK!”

In the last few months, I’ve re-read a book about a Holocaust survivor. It touches me so deeply I cry each time I read it.
I read Stephanie Nielsen’s book and hated it and loved it. I made myself finish it in two days because it was too agonizing to drag it on more than that. I couldn’t believe how jealous I was of her burns! Her hospital bed! I wanted to rage at the universe that so many of us (me) were suffering so quietly and unseenly and there were no hospital beds for people with fatal wounds on the INsides. I also loved how much I related to her healing. It took me 8 days to recover from her book.
I read a few books written about people who found God through their trials, and I laughed and cried with them.
I read FICTION WRITTEN AFTER 1950 and it didn’t send me into a pint of chocolate ice cream to assuage my despair at the decline of English intellect.
(I should probably pick up a book about humility after this?)

I’m reading a book about auras which is confusing and fascinating me all at the same wonderful time.

The more I read, the more I remember myself. The more I find I WANT TO READ. Reading begats more reading.
I’m finding that I’m drawn primarily to TRUE books -books about stories written by the people the stories happened to. I want more than anything to be this kind of writer: The Kind Who Tells the Stories That Others Can’t Tell For Themselves.

I go to the Internet and I research people and I find their stories and I wonder WHY EVERYONE DOESN’T KNOW THESE STORIES?!

My book list seems to be growing.
I’m happy about this, and I feel it’s time to reopen my library. And WHEN I DIE, my children will be forced to get rid of my crap and thereby will my posterity spend at least one solid week rifling through BOOKS.
That is my dying wish for my posterity.

My great-grandmother left her apple trees to nourish me. My books will likewise nourish the ones I spawn.

I plan on adding a bookcase next to my bookcase, and if all goes write (bah dum dum), I’ll have an entire WALL of books and it will be my soul’s happy place. When I listen to guided meditation and they ask me to find a place in my mind where I feel calm, I will GO TO THE WALL OF BOOKS and unwind the tension in my shoulders, unwind the tension in my mind and iron out the creases of myself.

God is by far the best at ironing me out.
I’m just realizing that books are a sort of second in command.

I hereby promise myself that on this day, February 2nd, 2015 (Happy Birthday, cousin Kimmi!), I will buy one new book each time I get paid. I also promise myself that the books I buy will be quality in every sense of the word. This means I will NOT be buying 1984 because it freaks me out. I will also not be buying Nicholas Sparks because his books freak me out.

My shelves at present are filled with church history, family history, all manner of Janes, The Help, Robert Frost, Nora Ephron, Dr. Seuss, Ben Franklin, and Dorothy Parker. I own an antique Eugene Field poetry book… I picked it up after finding out that my grandfather was named Eugene in honor of the poet. As soon as it came in the mail, I inhaled the attic smell and then laughed out loud because his poetry took me completely by surprise. Here:

Grandpa would never eat a child, let’s just be clear. Eugene Field was infamous for his humor and wit, and I love linking his name to my family and adding his poems to my library. I just have to screen the passages I read to the littler ones at bed time…

I’m going to write a list of the books I’m going to add to my library. I need a reference point in case I forget what I want. I also need might re-title this post “GIFT IDEAS” and hope Danny’s on board with unsubtly.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Night by Elie Wiesel
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Peter Pan (Xist Classics)
Cheaper By the Dozen and Belles on their Toes by a couple of Gilbreth children
The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

And these should get us started well… a few paychecks’ worth of nourishing soul food.

What would you add to it? A biography? An adventure? A pack of poems? A book on humility?


  1. A few oldies but goodies await you……

    Anything by, Agnes Sligh Turnbull. Written in the 40’s and 50’s. (None on kindle, but very cheap on Amazon.

    All of a kind Family written at the turn of the century ( on kindle or Amazon)

    Rebecca by Dauphine Du Maurier. I read this one at least once a year.

    I could list over a thousand that I have read in my lifetime and still not come close to a complete list. Check these few out and if you feel so inclined ask me for some more titles.
    PS: LOVE your blog!

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