Thursday, September 10, 2009
From the time I was a young girl I loved to read. I was not the most popular girl--neither was I the prettiest and I was overweight so books really became my friends.
I remember going to the local library after school. I spent so much time there the librarian took me under her wing. She started recommending books for me to read. I started out with Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys and others by Louisa Mae Alcott. Everytime I finished one book, the librarian (wish I could remember her name) would give me another. By the time I was in junior high school I realized that I loved big, thick books so eventually I made it to The Arms of Krup (650+ pages). After that I moved on to Les Miserables. In high school I was reading Ayn Rand's books like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
What I loved about books was that you could go places--places where a little, poor African American girl could not go and what reading these books did for me (besides building my vocabulary) was expose me to these places and to the itch to want to rise above my current circumstances.
My mother used to think that I spent too much solitary time so she'd force me to go out and play. I'd find a way to stuff a book under my shirt or sweater and would hide under the stairway of our 6-story walkup and read until I'd hear her call me to come in. At night I'd read with my head under the covers using a flashlight to give me enough light to see. I'd read anywhere I could.
What got me thinking about this? We're having a project done in the house to build bookshelves up and downstairs. I estimate that these book shelves will help me empty at least 10 boxes. We already have a large bookshelf full of my books but we're a book-loving family so a good deal of the boxes we moved are filled with, that's right--books. I mentioned my project to one of our neighbors. She said "We don't read books". I was surprised. My favorite way to spend time is in Barnes & Nobles or the library so I guess it always stuns me when I'm reminded that not everyone likes books. I haven't read all of my books but when I'm ready for another one, I just go shopping in my library. Sometimes when I hear the title of a good book I add it to my Wish List on Amazon.com.
For me, a day without a book is a day without sunshine and you can tell a lot about a person from their books. Here's my Wish List:
The Last Lecture - by Randy Pausch
The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary - by Merriam-Webster
Now, Discover Your Strengths - by Marcus Buckingham
The End of Overeating:Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite - by David Kessler
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating - by Mark Bittman
The Essential Raps! - Ron Clark
Excellent 11, The Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children - Ron Clark
Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less - by Kathryn Finney
Yoga for Women at Midlife and Beyond - by Pat Shapiro
Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style
How to Have Style - Issac Mizrahi
The Best Day of Someone Else's Life - by Kerry Reichs
Listening Is An Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from StoryCorps Project - by Dave Isay
What is Tao: - by Alan W. Watts
Does It Matter?: Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality - by Alan W. Watts
It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff - by Peter Walsh
Keepin' It Real: The Rise of Bullshit in the Black Community - Sabrina Lamb
Homemade Biography: How to Collect, Record, and Tell the Life Story of Someone You Love - by Tom Zoellner
A Creative Writer's Kit: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life - by Judy Reeves
Five Wishes: How Answering One Simple Question Can Make Your Dreams Come True - by Gay Hendricks