Why We Read

Happy Saturday y'all! I figured I'd give you something to mull over this weekend and maybe motivate you to go to the bookstore or local library.

If you've ever been to anywhere I've ever lived, my dorm, apartment, and now house, you know that there are and always will be books absolutely everywhere. They're on shelves, in cabinets, in boxes shoved underneath my bed, stacked on my desk, they're often even piled around my house-all organized by some form of genre I've developed in my head to describe how they all fit together. I'm admittedly somewhat of a collector. I don't like the word hoarder, it makes it sound like I'm going to die under a pile of old newspapers and canned black beans rather than sun hats and butterfly collections...Anyway, I am a collector of books and I only keep the good ones. They're like friends-if they taught you something, helped you get through a difficult time, they're golden and you'll never let them go. If they were always kind of a shallow disappointment, they're getting dumped at Goodwill (not to say I haven't found some amazing books at Goodwill...however I have never dumped anyone at a Goodwill...)



I buy books. I always feel like if I checked it out from the library and I fell in love with it, I'm going to have to buy a copy anyway to loan out once I recommend it to someone to ensure that they actually read it. How many times have you told somebody about a book that they will likely never read because you just gave them the name rather than putting a copy in their hands? Exactly. BE A PUSHY BOOK DEALER, PEOPLE. I feel like if you own the copy that you feel in love with, it's yours. It's personal. You had an experience with that book, you created a memory. As much as I like owning my books, I am nuts about libraries. I like looking at their architecture, how they're organized, the artwork if there is any, but most of all, I love the smell of library books-that kind of musty, worn in, poured over smell that is not overpowered by the smell of the cellophane used to protect them.


I would contest that the power of the written word is stronger than anything else; painting, sculpture, dance, nothing really evokes the emotion and thought that a well-written sentence can. Not only can the because it purveys ideas and thoughts, but because it has the ability to alter you. I have been molded by the countless books, poems, and articles that I have read throughout my life. 


Some of my earliest memories are those of my mom taking me and my brother to the public library back home. They had a children's section with turtles and a rabbit that I thought were just the coolest ever and the library itself looked as if it was supposed to be there. It sat in the middle of a grove of Banyan and palm trees, so inviting and full of adventure, like a far less creepy Lord of the Flies kind of thing. I also remember the librarian at my elementary school, Mrs. Jamro. I met her when I was 5 years old when she read to my kindergarten class, "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything." 


I loved that book and it probably has something to do with how much I love Halloween now. Mrs. Jamro also introduced me to John Bellairs, who became my favorite writer for quite some time. He wrote amazing mystery novels and the covers were illustrated by Edward Gorey (who recently has become very popular with hipsters. I've been loving your boy Ed since I was 7, so suck on that, Mutton Chops) What I wouldn't give to have the copies of all the John Bellairs books I read from my old elementary school. A few years ago when I was having a serious nostalgic moment I actually got on Amazon and ordered some used copies of all my old favorites. I always imagine that I'll torture my kids by reading these books to them...yes, with voices.



My favorite kinds of books are those that are both beautifully written and also discuss something interesting and challenge you to think differently. One of my favorites is "Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is now an international bestseller but when I first discovered this book, it was a dusty copy in the bottom of a Spanish bookstore. Shortly before I moved back from Spain (I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain for a while), I went to a bookstore looking for anything in English that wasn't Harry Potter which was all I could find those days. I found 3 books in the basement of this store and just as I was about to check out with another book, I ran back and grabbed "Shadow of the Wind" instead. The writing was so beautiful and descriptive that I didn't want it to end. I only allowed myself a few pages a week until I finished it almost a year later. It has since become a series but I will likely never read the other books. I feel like it ended just where it needed to and I don't want to taint that. Here is a description of the book: 


"The novel, set in post–war Barcelona, concerns a young boy, Daniel Sempere. Just after the war, Daniel's father takes him to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge library of old, forgotten titles lovingly preserved by a select few initiates. According to tradition, everyone initiated to this secret place is allowed to take one book from it and must protect it for life. Daniel selects a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. That night he takes the book home and reads it, completely engrossed. Daniel then attempts to look for other books by this unknown author but can find none. All he comes across are stories of a strange man – calling himself Laín Coubert, after a character in the book who happens to be the Devil – who has been seeking out Carax's books for decades, buying them all and burning them."


Do yourself a favor, read it! I'll be doing more book reviews in the future but I felt it was necessary to emphasize how important I think reading is. You can find anything in life that you're looking for between the pages of a book. Please share your favorite books in the comments below!

2 comments

  1. I LOVE books. I am a collector too. I was running out of room and had to only be buying books for my classroom. I begrudgingly made the switch to a Kindle a few years ago and I haven't looked back. Now I have over 600 books just waiting to be read. I had to start keeping an online digital bookshelf with Shelfari because I couldn't keep up with what I had and had not read. I still like to go check out books from the library from time to time...just because.
    XO
    Alison

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  2. I have books... Conveniently located in the harry potter closet of your home sweet home ;)

    FAAAVorite book of all time: ' The Prophet ' Kahlil Gibran

    luuurrrrve ya friend

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