Sunday, January 21, 2007

Read Any Good Books Lately?

That was the title of our sermon this week. When I saw it in the bulletin I had to smile, I just couldn't help myself. That's one of my favorite questions to ask...and to answer. I always have something to say to that, and am always interested to hear what others say.

The pastor chronicled his love affair with the written word as he told of evenings as a child, sitting around the fire, listening to mom read; of the excitement of getting his first library card when got older and of trips to the library to stock up on reading material for the week; of the joy of finding a good book at Good Will or a used book store. He talked of the floor-to-ceiling stacks of books in his study, of the need to read every night in bed before falling asleep. He talked of the wild rush of first hearing beautiful poetic works like William Cullen Bryant's Thanatopsis and of the appreciation he had for those who urged him to make their acquaintance. Do you remember, he asked, where you were when you first heard those words "So live, that when thy summons comes to move to that mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death, thou go not, like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams."? [I do. I first learned them in 11th grade. I've never forgotten them, nor had to relearn them. When I teach American Lit. I make my students learn them, too.]

All that I know and identify with. There is nothing like a good book, in my mind...unless it's talking to others about that same good book. I, too, have cherished memories of cuddling in front of the fire while listening to one or the other of my parents reading to us, or of the books my grandmother read to my cousin, my sisters and me on our annual summer visits to her home. A Spy in Williamsburg, Litling of Gaywood, the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables, and so many more. My introduction to the library was a Book Mobile that visited our neighborhood weekly before I was even in school. It would stop just outside our house and we'd run down to trade in last week's books for new ones. And then discovering Lois Lenski at the public library and taking boxes of books on vacation to while away the hours riding in the car.

I love going into a book store--used, independent, or (sorry) chain (Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks, etc.)--and just walking by the tables and looking at titles, smiling to see the hundreds of books I've already read, greeting them as if they were long-lost friends (they are!). I love giving books to others, knowing they, too, will make new friends with my friends. I love teaching a good book and hearing my students say, sometimes grudgingly, that was a good book.

Of course my own home is crowded with books. Everywhere you look, there's a pile of books, or a wall of books. I love when my nieces or sisters come over and just stand in front of the book shelves looking for a "good book to read." Lately I've been sharing Elizabethan books with my oldest niece. She fell in love with the Renaissance period in our English Literature class together last year (I taught it). And my other niece loves the same mystery series on Egyptian archeology that I enjoy. As long as there are books, we will always have common ground.

There really is nothing like a good book! And yes, I've read many good books lately. How about you?


Sunny said...

A pretty good one I read about a year ago was Crow Lake by Mary Lawson .

Patty said...

Wonderful to see so many books on the shelves. I have bookcases in just about every room ; )
I just finished The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. Liked it.

Heidi said...

Lois Lenski was my favorite author in grade school. I think I checked out every Lois Lenski book the library had. Seeing "Strawberry Girl" in your blog entry brought back A LOT of memories!