The first thing I do when arriving at an acquaintance's house for the first time is look around for the books, the books, where do they keep the books? Once I find them, I can relax a little in the knowledge that our relationship has a future.
(A very few of my books)
I don't care what people read, I just care that they read. It's of vital importance, actually. I don't really trust a person who doesn't read. (Do you?)
I'm not a size queen: I don't care if they have a massive library full of books or one little treasured pile next to their beds. Not everyone likes to hang on to their books as I do; some people prefer to have their way with them and then dispatch them into the wide, wide world to be treasured by someone else. I think that's lovely.
As for me, frequent moves across the Atlantic Ocean have forced me to part with countless treasured volumes, but I keep a list of all the ones I've given away so that, in effect, they are still with me. If I ever have a fire and lose everything, it comforts to me know that at least I can recreate my library.
When my family encamped to the flatlands of the Midwest in the 1970's, books became my all-important passport to a enchanted childhood spent in Europe. Through them, I could still hunt for trolls in the Swedish countryside (Tove Jannsen, The Moomin Books), tuck into a midnight feast at an English boarding school (Enid Blyton, Mallory Towers) or help save Tintin from an encounter with a gorilla in Scotland (Hergé, The Black Island). They were more than just books to me: they were places I knew as intimately as I knew my own neighborhood and visited every chance I could get.
One summer day when I was about nine, I vividly remember my father begging me to at least take my book outside so I could get a little fresh air and sunshine. "Please," he said. "You're so pale." I protested, then conceded. Slamming the screen door behind me, I entered a nightmarish world of blinding sunlight and stifling humidity. Was there no refuge to be found in this strange land? In a burst of inspiration, I climbed a tree and spent the next several hours reading in shaded splendor while below me, my four rough-and-tumble younger siblings, none the wiser, played and argued and laughed and fought.
I still remember what I was reading that day.
Everyone has one book in their life that changed them from being a passive reader into a proselytizer of the written word. This is that book for me.
It perfectly captured my longing to escape from Michigan, spinning a tale of faraway lands and fanciful creatures and magical thinking caps that hit me with such force that I was propelled into sharing author Julie Edwards' (aka Julie Andrews) world with others. I embarked on a feverish campaign to get all my friends to read it. No one did.
But Google "Pax amor et lepos in iocando" ("Peace, love and a sense of fun") and you'll see that I'm not the only Whangdoodle worshipper out there.
(My "Whangdoodle" bookplate)
Tell me, please, what book changed everything for you? I am so curious.
P.S. Have you seen this? My friend Jenny alerted me to it. Available here. I don't even own a laptop and I want to get one.