They are strewn haphazardly around my nightstand, filled with prayers and personality.
They line the shelves, organized by theme, title and size.
They accompany me in the kitchen while I wait for breakfast to cook, during the kids’ bathtime while I wait for ducks to fish and tugboats to kiss trains, and on cold winter days spent snuggling sick children on the couch.
I’ve spent hours immersed in their slightly acid scent, their crinkly pages, and their sharp black lines, rubbing their smooth covers between my hands.
I’ve taught from them, comforted by the thickness of their pages neatly tucked under one arm so as to allow both my hands to talk. I’ve run my fingers along their spine or traced down their spiral bindings as I’ve worked. I’ve folded their pages and run my bright yellow highlighter through their sharp black print.
I love books.
I grew up in a library… a home, yes, but a home that was a library, where books lined virtually every open wall. My father’s office was reserved for thick, leatherbound volumes of the best works from all of time. Their presence was a constant comfort, not only as an escape, but as a source of answers for the questions we had, and as a friend.
A friend? Yes…. like old friends. Because they have been with me for so long… because I have argued with them, laughed with them, cried with them, and loved them. Because they belong to the human experience and carry human ideas. I love books.
Someone recently suggested to me that I get rid of all my books– that it would be freeing and simple. Easier. I’ve thought about this extensively.
I couldn’t do it. I can’t buy a kindle. I want to hold books in my hands. I can’t empty my bookshelves. I want to have books all around us to remind us that people and ideas are all around us. It’s a physical reminder of so many lessons that were hard to learn… that those we treat well will be with us for a long time, that those we have loved and spent time with will always be close, that we can share ideas with others and enrich each other, that bad ideas are out there, that bad ideas can have very pretty covers…. I love books.
Yes, I realize that these and all things are passing away– but the ideas they represent, and the joy they give us while we are here, make them faithful companions on the road of life.