I think Maxine Hong Kingston said it best “Without you, I am nothing”. Though she was talking about her relationship to her readers, I’m taking about books. I cannot fathom where I would be right now without books. Just as I breathe, I read to live. There is no other way to say how much I love books and feel kinship to other bookworms.
I grew up poor, dirt poor. My family barely had enough money for the basics. Sometimes we didn’t have the basics, but my mom still managed to put books into my hands. I cannot thank her enough for introducing me to my childhood favorites Alexander and the terrible, no good, very bad day, Where the wild things are, and Little Women. My mother was not a reader but she still feed me books and watched as my love for them grew. I can spend the rest of my life trying to pay her back, but my debt to her will never be paid in full.
Spending my life immersed in books and sharing my love of them with others is the closest I will ever get. Some of my favorite books growing up were The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I loved the whole gang of pre-teen girls who were smart, funny, and sure enough of themselves to start their own company, helping their community in return. They were girls who I identified with and would have loved being friends with.
I discovered the Judy Blume when I was a teenager and loved so many of her books. Tales of a fourth grade nothing and Double Fudge are still the funniest books I have ever read. Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret helped me get through adolescence while Iggie’s House, a quiet but profound story of friendship and racism is still in my head, so many years later.
In eighth grade I discovered The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson. It was a new edition that was never checked out by anyone. Except me. At my school’s library you could only keep a book for a week. I used to turn it in and then check it right back out, just a second later. I read and reread that book for almost a year. One of my favorite poems is “If I can stop one heart from breaking”. I realized how true this poem is just this weekend.
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain.