Ever since I could remember, I was the tiny girl who was always engulfed in a book. I’ve always loved books and not just the act of reading but my greatest pleasure comes from the physicality that comes along with the process. As a shy and antisocial child books provided the voices and courageousness that I had yet to develop. For that I found comfort in the pages of many a book. I even shared my love for books with my little sister. As legend has it I taught her to read at the age of four all by my little 5-year-old self. If that’s true maybe I should reconsider my career choice.
I’m happiest when I’m clutching a good book, drinking some tea and frantically turning the pages to see what happens next. I love all kinds of books but I have an engrossed love affair with old books for that I spend much of my time in used bookstores or scanning the library. When my friends tell me I need to modernize how I read, I have a few reasons why old traditions die hard when it comes to reading.
There’s history in a book that cannot be transferred in the digital world, sure you save loads of space and can walk around a few pounds lighter. But nothing quite matches highlighting great words. Smelling the pages or ink of a new or old book. I love to read, I love to pick up an old book that once belonged to someone to read the notes left to him or her by their best friend or lover who thought of them in the bookstore. To look at the yellowing pages and equate it with the wrinkles of wisdom that garnish the elderly. I love to look at the checkout dates on books from the library and imagine the places the book has traveled as the past and present intertwine as I wonder if we read it for the same reasons. There are so many books in my collection with words from their previous owners. There are small tidbits on life, dreams or, relating to a certain character.
I even have a multitude of books that once belonged to my mother or her siblings. I can compare the agency they brought to their reading through their scribbled notes and post-its. In first reading Things Fall Apart and The Great Gatsby in my preteens, I started to see how strikingly similar yet so different my mother and I read. She probably read these books at the beginning of her high school career whereas for me it sometime in 7th to 8th grade. Where I had objections and concerns she was more sympathetic but I guess that’s because she saw more of the way the world works at that time. Now as I’m older, I can understand things in the same light she once did reading them. I even realized my mother and I had the similar handwriting at the same times in our lives because of the books she passed down to me from various points in her life. When she was passionate about a certain point in a book she would rush and barely cross her T’s. I want the same tradition for my own children so I will continue to collect piles and piles of books.
I love to feel the book in my hands it heightens the reading experience. From the weight of the book to the feel of the cover; the bumpiness of the embossing, the differences in texture of the paper against the matte or glossed finish of the cover. It’s exhilarating to see my progression – how far I’ve gotten or how much I have left to go. I love angrily flipping through the pages when I do not agree with the opinions of a book but I always learn something.
And I always finish a book no matter how boring.
But if it is a good read all I need are a few hours tops.
I love the conversations that start over my choice of books with various people as I make my commute on the train. One of the only times I can say I actually like talking to strangers. From the richest to the poorest there is a commonality that comes with reading. We share stories of great literary works and how life brought us to such a book. That’s something that never happened when I had my e-reader.
Picking up a book that once changed my life again and again as I mature proves to provide a greater lesson. It shows me how my perspective changes, how I’ve grown and developed different opinions once I’ve lived a little more. It brings me back to moments that occurred during a specific reading. Resurrecting people I’ve lost since the initial read, who I was with when I glanced the pages, who thought a story would intrigue me when they gifted me a certain novel and who I wished I could have delivered words of the pages to. That’s a sensuality you just can’t get from an e-reader.
This summer I’m going to embrace my free time and remember the happiness reading has brought me since the days of building blanket forts and holding a flashlight as I read Charlotte’s Webb or Oliver Twist. Reading is the greatest accompaniment to solitude. I’m going to reread classics and open my eyes to the words of the freshest of authors. To avoid being the old lady who lives in hoarded house full of books maybe one day I’ll start using an e-reader but for now books bring me back to happiness, I thought I lost in adulthood.
Here are just a few of the books on my summer reading list: