Reading Into It

The upside of moving to a town where you know absolutely no one is… books. Lots and lots of time for books. Lots and lots of books to fill my time. Unpacking my books was like Christmas. You see, I have a Book Problem. It is similar to my Shoe Problem. I buy lots of books. And I buy lots of shoes. I have an entire bookcase filled with books I haven’t yet read. And that doesn’t even include the numerous titles I have on my Nook.

My greatest discomfort is the thought that I might be without something to read. So, I over-compensate. There are worse things I could buy, right? I’m not shooting heroin, not snorting cocaine. I’m just reading.

Or at least preparing my library for infinite reading.

There is nothing more magical to me than picking out my next book. There is a ritual to it, of course. First, I decide what I’m in the mood for. Do I want to be entertained? Do I want to be challenged? Do I want to step outside my comfort zone? Do I want something to read on the beach? Or something to curl up in my chair with? Is it a vodka and white-cran-peach kind of book? Or a Cabernet book?

Decisions, decisions.

Once the choice is made, I revel in the preparation. I read the back cover, devour the reviews, soak in the acknowledgments. It’s a bit like foreplay. (Yes, I really did just say that.) It heightens the anticipation, makes me eager to flip to page one. The opening sentence is the kicker. (You know what I mean, right, Mary?) Right away, I’m either drawn in, or I’m not.

Some of my most recent favorites?

“Once upon a time — for that is how all stories should begin — there was a boy who lost his mother.” (The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly)

“Rose Season stood at the threshold of her sister’s bedroom and silently watched the shadows of an oncoming storm stretch like plum-colored talons across the empty bed.” (The Four Seasons, Mary Alice Monroe)

“The silken hair of the three children glows bone white in the moonlight as they paddle the stolen canoe out into the icy waters of Canandaigua Lake.” (The Language of Trees, Ilie Ruby)

“Six months before Polly Cain drowned in the canal, my sister, Nona, ran off and married a cowboy.” (The God of Animals, Aryn Kyle)

“We came home because we were failures.” (The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown)

Such magic.

We got our Oktibbeha County library cards yesterday. It was a perfect day. The smell of old books, the creak of the wooden floor, the vast expanse of adventures waiting to be had. You know I’m not necessarily a fan of library books. It’s the germ fanatic in me. I like to own my own books, like to know that no one else has sat on the toilet with them in hand or wiped a stray kid booger on page 234. But I do like the experience of a library. And I like for my kids to read library books. My kids are already dirty — a little extra library dirt won’t hurt them.

There is a great slowing down that happens when you move to a town where everyone is a stranger. I find that I travel a little more slowly, take in the sights with a little more peripheral vision, experience each moment a little more thoroughly. And part of that experience is the luxury of filling my hours with my beloved books.

When there are no lunch dates to run to, no dresses to shop for, no events to plan, no birthday parties to buy for, no dinner dates to schedule, life takes on a different pace. Not bad. Just different. Perhaps in many ways, better.

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