Books hold such a dear place in my heart. I spent my entire childhood consoled by the characters in the books that I would read. I would walk through the shelves of my town’s library and gently lay my fingers on the spines of the books as I passed; I enjoyed touching the books and I would smile as I came across old favorites. What others saw as simply a book, I would see as the lives of people and their experiences annotated within the pages. The books and their characters were my friends who were always there for me. No matter what place I was in when I set the book down, the characters were always waiting and willing to continue their story when I picked it back up.
All I wanted to do as a child was sit around and read a stack of books with a bar of chocolate and a Coke. I was the typical bookworm who hid her reading at night with a flashlight under the covers. When I was punished as a child, my books were taken from me by my parents. I won my elementary school’s Accelerated Reader program contest for reading the most books when I was eight, which led to an interview by the Atlanta’s Fox 5 News. I was the weirdo who spent weekends in the library, who read on the school bus and was picked on for reading Black Beauty when I was in kindergarten by the asshole fifth grader who couldn’t read. I was the person who read every book on the summer reading list and came prepared for the tests when the school year began.
Books were an expensive luxury to me so the library is where I would feed my habit. My sister and I would ride our bikes a total of eight miles to the small library near our house during the summer. We would cool off in the rows of books while we perused, pick out ten books each (we were limited, unfortunately; stupid rule), and shove them into our backpacks for the trek back home, where we would disappear into our individual rooms and read in silence for hours. Silence was what my dad wanted and books allowed us a playful escape without the noise. We would repeat this every week for multiple summers of my childhood.
The books that I could keep were given to by my grandmother, who saw my desire for more books, always more books. She would give me multiple books for my birthdays and Christmas and sometimes for a random Tuesday because “I thought you would like this one.” Friends would get me books, occasionally. I remember one party where all the other girls got makeup and I was given books. I had never been happier. When the Scholastic book mobile came to school, I would beg my mom for money to buy books. I was given a very small amount of money to get a book or two, and my heart broke with every book I wouldn’t take home. As I got older, stacks of library books filled my car, my room, and my book bag. People would make fun of me, but I was proud of my delightful hobby and took no notice of being called a nerd.
Even now, books are stacked around my house and in my car, but they are mine and no longer the library’s books. I buy them or I am given them by people who understand my love of books. I spent my first paycheck from the Marine Corps at Barnes and Noble and on a bookshelf. I don’t want to give up any books as an adult, even terribly written ones like Fifty Shades of Grey. I rarely lend books out because they never seem to come back. This may seem like selfish behavior but I want my child to grow up in a house of books, and I want to be able to buy him any book that he desires. I remember being told no when I wanted more books. There is no such thing as too many books. Beauty and the Beast’s library with stacks of books from wall to ceiling is a personal dream of mine. I want to own a library with books abounds and tall ladders to help me reach what books I would otherwise forget existed. I want my books to surround me, silent until I open their pages and drink what friendship they have to offer me.
The smell of books, the feel of books, and the comfort of books, that is what I love. Happy National Book Lover’s Day!
And yes, I dog-ear books. It shows that they have been well-loved.