In Others’ Words: The Story of Books

quote about books Arthur Conan Doyle 2014

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love books, when I didn’t surround myself with them. A few beside my bed, one beside the couch, always one in my hands … I was often chided for reading while I walked, reading while I ate meals … and yes, reading in the bathroom. This last habit was a criminal offense because there were seven people in my family and one bathroom in our house.

Of course, I spent my allowance on books … up until I began spending it on clothes. But even then, I always squandered a fair bit of my money in the bookstore. Yes, I could borrow books from the library, but there was something about owning a book … about a book being mine for keeps.

Once I was married, my husband quickly learned that I kept books. When it came time to do some deep cleaning or spring cleaning — whatever you want to call the kind of cleaning where closets and shelves are ransacked and black trashbags are toted to the local thrift store — the one thing that didn’t get sorted through were the shelves of books. Our kids learned this too. Books are forever purchases in our family.

In Your Words: What’s your story when it comes to books? What’s the first book you remember owning — buying it yourself or receiving as a gift? Are you a keeper of books or can you let them go when you’re sorting through stuff? 

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12 Comments

  1. June 6, 2014, 6:41 am   /  Reply

    We have so much in common! I have a stack of books 3 ft by 2 ft by 18 inches high next to the ottoman on which I rest at night. That’s aside from what’s in the shelves.

    I was a fairly precocious reader (had to be, to escape my childhood), and the first book I remember owning was “The United States Navy in World War Two”, a comprehensive one-volume work over 1000 pages long. The other kids were watching Sesame Street; I had a pretty good idea of the Battle of Tassafaronga.

    The book eventually fell apart from use, and it was only recently that I found another copy online.

    I did let some books go when moving, and regretted it. Now I keep them, with the exception of those I really loathe (there have been a few that were so mean-spirited that I didn’t want them in my house).

    When i could get out, I carried a book or two everywhere,and always read while eating. Usually I ate alone, so it wasn’t an issue, but when I married…hoo, boy.

    And when I traveled to conferences, I always found a bookstore, and brought home a book or two…or five. It seemed like a good way to remember the trip, and it was a lot more fun spending a long evening in Barnes and Noble than in my hotel room.

    Some people see further from the shoulders of a giant. Me, I stand on a pile of books.

    • June 6, 2014, 3:37 pm   /  Reply

      We do have a lot in common, Andrew …including a lifelong love for books, it seems! And I love what you said at the end:”Some people see further from the shoulders of a giant. Me, I stand on a pile of books.”

  2. June 6, 2014, 7:18 am   /  Reply

    From age 4 to 12, I lived across the street from a small but wonderful library–best.place.ever. Such a haven and inspiration. What it meant to me made me want to take books to people who didn’t have, even to people up and down our river away from towns.
    I’m thrilled to see my grandchildren get lost in books even though some chores don’t get done. I know what’s happening inside, and cheer.
    Thanks, Beth.

    • June 6, 2014, 3:39 pm   /  Reply

      We’ve talked about that little library across the street from you growing up, and how it influenced your life. And yes, the library was the best.place.ever for me too –except that one time where a group of girls slapped me around in the girls’ bathroom. Yep. Not such a fun day.

  3. June 6, 2014, 8:42 am   /  Reply

    This post made me smile because I JUST went through the painful process of sorting through my books. For the longest time I thought I’d never, ever, ever get rid of any of my books…but I finally did it. I think I only got rid of ones that I also have on my kindle, though. LOL!

    I don’t know if I can remember the first book I bought–very possible a Nancy Drew one. I do know that I was probably the easiest kid ever to buy gifts for–get me a book and I was happy.

    • June 6, 2014, 3:41 pm   /  Reply

      Growing up, my kiddos knew that there’d be a stack of books waiting for them under the tree on Christmas morning. Other gifts too, yes, but always, always books. 🙂 And repeat the gift of books on their birthdays.

  4. June 6, 2014, 10:11 am   /  Reply

    I’m with you, Beth – there’s nothing like owning books!

    I was raised in the military and spent most of my youth stationed overseas. Owning books was an impossibility – there was a nasty weight limit. Everything I read came from the library. My childhood dream was to actually own a book. Some might say I’ve gone overboard; I have lots of bookshelves.

    When I pick up a book I’ve read, I remember the magic feeling I had when I read it. They’re like best friends and who can toss a best friend??

    • June 6, 2014, 3:42 pm   /  Reply

      Ah, the life in the military and the whole “weight limit” ordeal. My husband is a doctor and so he was allowed a professional weight limit for books. Isn’t that great? Of course, they were medical textbooks … but still …

  5. June 6, 2014, 12:46 pm   /  Reply

    Yet another thing we have in common. I’ve had a love affair with books since I was a toddler. My mom made me a touchy-feely book when I was a small thing, and I wore all the textures off of it. I read everything I could get my hands on. Read in the bathroom (we were a one bathroom family too), read as I walked to and from school, and sneaked my current reads into Algebra class in junior high. Which might explain why my grades and my understanding were not always that great. And I borrowed books from friends when I didn’t have the money to buy it for myself.

    I buy books for keeps too. But, we’ve had to give some of our non-fiction away so I could make room for my fiction books. 🙂 I loved buying the next book in a series.

    • June 6, 2014, 3:43 pm   /  Reply

      I am now starting the book buying tradition all over again with my first grandchild … and oh, the fun it is, Jeanne, to see that she loves books too!

  6. June 6, 2014, 1:56 pm   /  Reply

    I treasure books. I didn’t have them as a child much. My mom read to us. I loved that.

    Then, in the first grade, while I didn’t win the competition for designing a bookmark, I did get an honorable mention. And my prize? A book! I still have it!! It was all mine. (I had 5 siblings.)

    Then, I discovered books at thrift stores. And started homeschooling….I think I may officially qualify as a library now…

    I just need to spend more time reading them! 🙂

    • June 6, 2014, 3:44 pm   /  Reply

      Oh, homeschooling! A whole other reason to buy books. I only homeschooled my chilredn for a few seasond of their school years, but still … ot added to the books in our house, that for sure.

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