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Growing up immersed in books creates a lifelong connection with the written word and the pages upon which those words rest.

As the daughter of two librarians, I have been surrounded by books for my entire life.  Our house was full of them, floor-to-ceiling shelves lining both sides of the front hallway, shelves halfway up two of the four living room walls, an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves in the study.  Shelves in my bedroom, in E-Bro’s room, in the dining room, in my parents room.  They were everywhere.  I think my Father actually read all of those books. 

I spent time in at my Father’s office from near-infancy, and shelved books for a few hours after school in my teens.  I loved the old books, the smell of ages, the tissue-fine texture and sound of the pages, the soft, delicate leather of embossed covers – and the millions of thoughts that so many souls had taken the time to write, to share.

The physicality of a book is, for me, still a large part of the reading experience.  I love used books, the older the better.  The feel of holding a book, turning pages, having it fall from your hands once you sleep, cannot be replicated with an audiobook or a Kindle or something similar.  Who has not finished a journey through a book, closed the cover for the last time, and held it to their heart, reveling in the feeling of quiet peace, power and transformation gained from the tale? 

A good bookstore (preferably used) is a place of refuge for me.  After the deaths of each of my parents, I found myself gravitating towards bookstores for solace at the end of many days.  A turn down an aisle would lead me to traveller’s journals, another turn to classics, yet another to histories, to recipes, to biographies, to mysteries.  Aisles became isles for me, each offering an escape to a different delight, even though I might have to dig a bit to find the treasure hidden within.

My once-favorite used bookstore has now fallen out of favor.  For years owned by a proprietor who was friendly to customers, curious about all books, and who would buy almost anything brought into the store for trade, he sold it to family members who are curt and stingy and have sucked the charm out of the shop.

A place on Pearl Street has become a pleasant haunt, run by an eccentric man who sits in a veritable cave of books behind a glass top counter.  He seems to know every volume in his huge hodgepodge three-room shop.  It’s the spot to go to for something old, unusual or unexpected.

The primary independent bookstore in Boulder has started selling used books as well – mostly newer publications.  While the store has always been inviting, the addition of the used books makes perusals and discoveries there even more intriguing.  It’s a large, airy place, with comfortable chairs and its own personality, unlike the Borders and Barnes and Noble chains, which, while cushy-seated, seem soulless in their energy and offerings.

Curiously, I did not marry a reader.  Pat has only read a few books since he left school, though he reads newspapers and magazines.  Most books just cannot hold his attention.  I can’t imagine the quantity of books we’d have had if he HAD been a reader.  But Kelsea is a reader, voracious, like me.  I read her her first book, One Leaf Fell, when she was eight days old.

Kelsea and I have both said we’d love to run our own bookshop one day, and she dreams of going to live in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, used bookstore capital of the world, where she can browse and read to her heart’s content.  I myself would be happy just reading and writing, taking pictures and walking on a beach for the remainder of my days.

One of the blogs I drop in on from time to time is  The author is cataloging his extensive collection on his blog.  I don’t know why it so intrigues me, but it does.  I suppose it’s the notion of another bibliophile, one who has had the privilege and luxury of keeping his books, rather than borrowing or reselling them, that appeals to me.  Would that I could have such a library myself.

I still have shelves of books at Pat’s house and shelves of books at the cottage.  Those at Pat’s are ones I can’t part with, but have no room for in my little house.  Those in the cottage are mostly unread, patiently waiting upon the shelves for their turn, their time, which is when the mood strikes me.  There are dozens in queue, and more added more often than I should, given my meager income at the moment.  Someday, I will have a white room opening onto the sea with floor-to-ceiling shelves on three walls to hold my books.  Then perhaps, I will finally be home.

July 2010
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