She Who Reads the Most Books Wins?

October 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I learned to speak and read English in the first grade after our family emigrated from Norway. My mother took me to the ancient Carnegie Library on Market Street in Ballard that first year. In the children’s section on the second floor I reached up the dark wood counter as the librarian handed me down my first library card. I loved the creaky floors, musty smells and hidden promise of that library, and when I was in high school I got a job there as a page, shelving books.

I wish I had kept a list of every book I have read. It would be a very long list. My life, interior landscape and intellectual curiosity have been shaped by these books. By junior high my “more is better” book habit was firmly in place and I would drag home a pile of books—and read them—every week. From Kristin Lavransdatter to the Heart of Darkness to War and Peace, I was taking in rich imagery and feeding my love of language with classics. I foraged in the stacks of the Seattle Public Library downtown and learned to recognize good writing from bad.

In my twenties while living in Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., Canada with no TV, or electricity or library and hours of long winter days of darkness I read paperback versions of The Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy one after the other, with my feet propped on the open door of our oil stove, the only heat in our little one-bedroom house. I still mumble on appropriate occasions, “Sing hey for a bath at the close of the day that washes the cares of the world away.”

My parents gave me a little black King James Bible in 1952, when I was eight and in my teens I had completely read it through several times. Being on a Youth for Christ Quiz Team on the Book of Romans helped me memorize verses that are in my memory bank and can be drawn on now.

In my teens and twenties there wasn’t the proliferation of “Christian” fiction that there is now, and what there was, wasn’t very good. I still don’t read much in this genre (no Amish fiction, no chick-lit, no romance!), but do make exceptions. Right now I’m reading Ted Dekker’s Immanuel’s Veins and am stunned by the beauty and truth that is wrapped in this can’t-put-it-down story.

I’m drawn to true-life adventure, international mystery/spy, the best of the travel genre … like Dark Star Safari, biography and memoir. Books lie in wait at my bedside table and elsewhere and fill shelves both upstairs and down. The library is my spa of choice where worlds untapped await.  I keep a notebook where books I want to order from the library system are categorized.

Addicted?  Yes. And if I suddenly had no more access to any reading material, I’d be bereft, inconsolable and feeling the withdrawals.

Which reminds me … I’m out of books, have to finish this and go to the library.

How about you? What sorts of books are you drawn to?

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011

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