Let Them Read Books

Here’s an old “From the Shoe” column that I haven’t put on my blog yet. Got a late start with today’s blog, so I am posting an old column from 2011.

The holidays are right around the corner, and what will you kids do during vacation? Let them read books! Reading, what a great pastime. I love books. I mean, I really love books. What’s not to love? When I have extra money, I hit up the used book section at Florey’s or even splurge with a new purchase. One day last fall, I had some money, maybe like thirty bucks, (now that’s a lot for the used book section), and I stopped by Florey’s. I found some nice used books and was very pleased. But I was in for a more pleasant surprise. Coming out the bookstore, I saw the sign –“two day library book sale” at the Pacifica Library.

Oh my gosh. I still had an hour to kill before I had to pick up the kids and at least fifteen bucks left; and the sun was shining in Pacifica! Don’t you love those days when the stars align just for you!

With great anticipation, I scooted up the little hill to the library and even found a parking space. I spent the next 45 minutes hungrily searching the various sections and left with a bagful of goodies that only cost about thirteen dollars. Of course, I should have used the money for something more practical, like extra boxes of oatmeal or topping off the gas tank, or even, heaven forbid, put it in the bank. But I am a hopeless book addict. I have decided that if I get married again it will have to be to a man like the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.” I fell in love with him when he gave Belle his fantastic library. Now that’s a man after my own heart.

My love for books was born in my grandmother’s Richmond District living room. She had a wall full of books”…literally. The built-in bookshelves stretched from her lovely carpeted floor up to the twelve foot ceiling. For a young girl, it was larger than life and filled with so much potential and excitement. Similarly, at her Russian River cabin, my uncle, who lived with her, had dotted the entire cabin with small bookshelves, so everywhere you went you were sure to find a history book or Dickinson’s poetry or a Shakespearean play.

No movie, no second hand account can convey the clear impressions of a great literary creation. Forever etched in my mind is Aeneas, wrestling over whether or not to plunge the sword into Turnus’ chest, in Cecil Day Lewis’ translation of Virgil’s “The Aenied”. Or the divine act of kindness by hungry little Sara Crewe in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Little Princess,” when after she found a coin in the gutter, she bought half a dozen hot cross buns only to part with five of them to one hungrier than she. Or Ray Bradbury’s sensational descriptions of autumn and spooky nights in “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” And finally, the serene, sublime words, “he restores my soul,” from the shepherd-king’s most famous psalm.

I am but a poor dilettante traveling the rich borderlands of a vast continent of literary landscape. I hope our kids will learn to appreciate all that can be experienced and learned from reading, so this holiday season… let them read books.

3 thoughts on “Let Them Read Books”

    1. I loved Sara Crewe, I wanted to own a bakery like the baker in this book and give out bread. Such a great story! Frances Hodgson Burnett hit another home run with “A Secret Garden”, Dickon’s mom is probably the reason I had so many kids.

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