Saturday, May 8, 2010

*She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain.

This week I sat down to read. And read. And read.


I finished Lahiri's The Namesake today. It is still with me, sifting in. I love when books do this, drip and then diffuse throughout the whole of me. Like a single drop of color in clear water, my hue is forever changed, if only slightly.

I find it impossible to describe this sensation to those who aren't "book people." My students, for instance, have already separated themselves into book people and, well, everyone else. Some might jump ship later in life. Perhaps. But I think this visceral, emotional connection to books forms early. For me, it isn't plot alone that draws me. It isn't the want of entertainment. It is the characters I live with, embody, for a time. It is the prose (oh, the prose), the layers and motifs and words upon words upon words. The details. It is the ideas that lend themselves to human observation, to truths. It is the fact that whenever I see a copy of Jane Eyre I grow nostalgic for that first summer I learned what books were capable of--that summer after 8th grade I spent wandering the moors of England, fearing and needing Mr. Rochester at once. It is that my mind can still hear the sound of the sliding automatic doors, can still feel the warm summer air stirring with the cool air conditioning of the Weber County Library of my childhood. It is that this memory is still one of my favorite sensations.

It does not seem ridiculous or shameful or odd or pitiful to me that some of my life's happiest moments are those in which I fell just a little more in love with books and all they offer. The spines of books along my bookshelves each tell their own story, yes, but also relate a narrative of where I've been--each book came to me at what was so often the perfect moment in my life. Some books are a ritual, repeated year after year.

I recently read this article with my AP students and had them write their own essays about what they believe to be "The Art of Reading." As for me, well, I knew the reason I have a post card of Toni Morrison in all her wisdom posted on the bulletin board directly above my office desk. This essay only confirmed it: I connect with her. She is one of the book people.

I am aching for the year to end, for summer to arrive. To lounge about, sinking into book after book after book.

In the meantime, you should really pick up this book.

And The Interpreter of Maladies if you are a fan of short stories.

Oh, and I must thank my fellow book people who recommended Lahiri in the first place.

*(And thank you, Louisa May Alcott, for my title.)


Jen said...

Funny, I was just talking to Alex the other day about my childhood, my parents' divorce, a bunch of other serious stuff. And I concluded by saying that when I was in the 4th grade, my teacher gave me a Nancy Drew book. I stayed up super late one night to finish reading it, and that was when I knew my destiny in life: To read novels. (This may erupt into a blog post soon...)

Stephanie said...

I would rather be book-addled than anything else.

Thank you for this; it was lovely.

Libby said...

I'd say I'm a part-time book person. I go through phases were I can't get enough and then I can't seem to get through the first chapter.

Summer always seems to bring out my inner book lover.