When I was younger, I loved to read. When I was in college, I didn’t have as much time to hit the books but I still harbored my love for them (reading the textbooks for class doesn’t count). When I moved out on my own I collected books like crazy and read them with just as much fever. As I moved into married life, it continued on and I made sure to keep a steady stack of books around in case I ever got the urge.
I collected everything, my favorite being mystery stories; I absolutely loved Agatha Christie books. I collected old books, law books, antique encyclopedia sets—one set dating to around 1910. Cooks books, kid books, classics, huge ancient dictionaries, really everything. Nothing was safe if it was a book. And I read them all.
But, as the kids came along one by one I found that I had less and less time to read. And then when we started moving from house to house due to the out growing of them, I packed fewer and fewer books to each new location. I must have donated or gave away hundreds. Some I just threw away. Only my favorites did I keep which occupied a small handmade bookcase in our game room left behind by the previous owners.
Well, now with all the kids all in school and no little one in diapers demanding things from me, I’ve dusted off the old habit .
At first it was just a book here and one there as I was wanting to start slow. Most of them came from the small section at the back of the local Goodwill. But then I stumbled upon something at my local library. You see, they have these chest high bookcases loaded with used books located on the left just as soon as you walk in. They were dirt cheap—25cents for paperback and 50cents for hardback. I was in heaven.
And then the magic book fairy looked down and smiled on me, showing me another small shelf tucked away by the copy machine. It was the ‘Free’ bookshelf. I asked the librarian if I was reading the sign correctly. She assured me that I was. I then asked her if there was a limit as to how many I could have. She told me there wasn’t a limit—that I could have as many of them as I wanted or as many as I could carry out the door.
She should never have told me that.
Now, most of these books are old library books, ones that have seen better days or out of circulation use. But I didn’t care. I’ve been every week since and that is the first place I hit before I do anything else. The librarians laugh when they see me coming and without saying a word, hand me a box to put my treasured finds in. I never leave without at least five books in hand and most are my favorites: mystery stories.
Only once did I feel guilty about my hoard. While I was making my way along the bottom rack, a lady came up and began rummaging threw my freshly acquired stacks. Using my best southern manners, (momma would have been proud) I politely told her that those were my books and that I was sorry for the confusion.
She turned and stared me, demanding asking if all of them were. I replied yes. Well, that didn’t make her very happy and she threw the book down and mumbled something about me being greedy and rude. I tried to explain that not all of them were for my pleasure, but that I had five kids who also liked to read—especially my oldest son who was gonna love all the WWII books that I had just pulled. The lady could have cared less and strode off still mumbling under her breath.
I began to rethink my stacks and which books I could put back. I mean I wasn’t trying to be ‘greedy and rude’. And if she thought that, then maybe others had passed by and thought the same thing.
I guess the librarian must have overheard the conversation and possibly saw the hurt look on my face because she walked over to where I was standing. She told me to keep my piles and take as many books as I wanted. After all, The sign taped overhead never did say there was a limit.
I told her ‘thank you’ and that I promised each would get read, and they did.
I love books! Now, if you will excuse me I’ve just returned from a trip to the library and I’m itching to grab some coffee, snuggle up on the sofa and feed my habit.
(how do y’all like my photo above? I thought it came out cool… those are just a few of my many treasures sitting on my shelf)