When the digital age of books began, I got a kindle and then a kindle app on my iPad then on my phone. I loved it. I could read in the dark of night. I could read anywhere and I had a load of books with me all the time. In a small device. It was marvelous.
I was never going to get a print book again unless it was signed by the author or I got a gift. Or if I needed a coffee table ornament. But you get the drift.
But books had always had an allure to me. On my birthdays before the digital age of books I would request two things on my birthday to go ride my horse and to go to the bookstore. That for we was the epitome of a perfect day.
I’d be nice and zen from a good ride and then I’d grab a coffee at the bookstore coffee shop and I would browse the books. I’d leave with a bag full. Do these big stores even exist anywhere? I know a few places where small independent bookstores still stand. Those stores are awesome. Strong and steady -a beacon for those who still read real books.
My book fetish began by having a book loving momma. She began reading to me when I was just an infant. And I did the same for my little’s. I remember my mother and I sitting down to read Babar and Mother Goose. First she to me then later I told her. Oh how I loved Babar.
Out of that was born a reader. I read voraciously as a child. If we had a book list for summer break I doubled the amount required.
We went to the library and that smell of the books became as important to me as the words that were in them. I loved getting new books because of how they felt in my hands. I would be the first to dog ear a page (I always lost my book marks and hated losing my place.). I felt something stir inside me when I got a book to read.
My love for the real thing – a solid book really hasn’t left me. It just got put away on the back burner as I read and read on my reading apps. But every once in a while I stepped inside a bookstore. And the feelings of book love returned.
We have a small independent bookstore in Bethany Beach. I stopped in there a few weeks ago to browse. The kids and I all left with books. It’s much easier to read a real book on the beach. An electronic device and sun do not mix. Light is my friend when reading a real book. I can see the print when I am on the beach but not so much at home these days. Which is why the switch to a reading app went so well for me. I could make the print big. I didn’t need readers.
My mother isn’t just a reader she’s a super reader. She has read thousands of books. I think she should have been a librarian, and a decorator, and a doctor. She did work at the Library of Congress for a stint. She’s pretty darn smart.
My mother had hundreds of books on her shelves in her home. She loves them. Each book. They are not just words on a page. The books are her friends. They gave her joy. There are some she didn’t keep over the years but that’s because they weren’t worthy of her shelves. A Bad book. There aren’t too many but there were some. Thank goodness or the books very well may have taken over.
My mom was forced to move out of her last home and in with us last November. She had lost her husband -my stepfather- the year before and I was worried about her being alone in PA. But she stoically stayed the course and lived alone until one illness and a trip to the ER -a call to 911 she doesn’t remember making – and a ten day stay in the hospital -made her realize it was time to leave that home and go to Maryland to live with her daughter.
It was a change for all of us. She basically left the hospital and never returned to that home. We handled the move from Maryland and Kevin and the boys got most of her belongs out and sorted. Some came here and some to our beach cottage in Delaware. Her housekeeper packed up much of her stuff including hundreds of books.
I hadn’t seen the extent of the move because I was sick and readying for more surgery. Most of her boxes went to storage then after many things moved to the beach cottage her many boxes of books and other personal things went into our garage. So much stuff! So many books. We didn’t need all those books. We had digital books now didn’t we? It seemed such a no brainer. We will sift through the books and keep just what mom absolutely wanted. We would donate the rest – no biggie.
It was taking a while for us to get to the book sorting job. We had sorted through many boxes of her other things but the books remained. I had no idea where to put them. We have a small rancher and it was already full. So I kept putting that job off. But my mom asked often about the books.
So in a frenzy of wanting to get rid of stuff because I could now physically handle the task and because I just love to purge – I made room in a bookcase in our dining area that I had used to hold dishes we never used much -if ever.
So the task of unpacking boxes of books began one day recently. It was unplanned but my momma was feeling pretty good that day. I think I thought that many of the books would be going in the give away boxes. But I could see how much each book meant to my mom. She would pull one out and say how it was a good book or that my daughter might like it. We began to make a pile for my daughter and one for the boys. I found a few that I wanted to read. We began a pile to be taken to the beach house.
Pretty soon I realized something.
I still loved the physical book.
The whole thing words and paper and smells and covers.
We found another bookcase that wasn’t really being used in the basement. We cleaned it off and the boys hauled it up to the dining area which was looking more like a library. We began adding more books. We did have a good number of books that went to be donated. When we were done I felt happy at a task done but more than that something felt so good about seeing those books on those shelves.
And better yet I sometimes see my mom perusing the shelves or just staring at her books. I can tell now why she asked about them so much. She has lost a lot in the last few years so those books are a connection to the past.
Do we need all these books taking up space? A few weeks ago I would have said heck no! But now I smack that me. Heck yes we need those books!
Sometimes. I just don’t get it until I get it.