It’s FRIDAY, BITCHES!
You know what that means… booze and books until we can’t open our eyes anymore.
It also means GUEST POST day. Today’s post is from Barbara Khan, founder of the Baer Books Facebook group where readers come together to chat all things WORDY.
I don’t remember my mom reading to me. I know she did, every night, in fact. I just don’t have any memories of that. My earliest memory is from 1970. I was three and we were in our little house on Lee Lane. My sister and brother were 13 and 11 respectively, they were in school. I was home with my mom. I imagine she spent many hours teaching me to read. She was the reason I was reading on my own at three. She’s the reason I’m the reader I am today. Later that same year we moved next door. I know it seems odd to just move next door, but I guess we needed a bigger house, so I think my memories started in that “new” house.
In the new house I had a play room. I kept all my toys, dolls, games, and books in there. I had a little record player and I used to listen to books on LP. Way before audio books existed! The album covers doubled as a book. I don’t recall any of the titles, but I would put the record on the turn table, sit on the floor and follow along with the story, placing my finger under the words, reading along with the audio.
My mom was a avid reader. I realize that now, but at that time I just knew in the morning when I woke, Mom would be reading, drinking coffee, and smoking her cigarettes. It was the 70’s, everyone smoked! On cold days or in winter, she’d be inside on the couch, summer and pleasant days she’d be outside in her chaise lounge under the ever-reaching arms of the maple tree. That was reassuring, to know exactly where your mom would be.
We went to the library weekly, because Mom had to replenish her supply. Nowadays, I wonder how she picked which books she’d check out. There were no Goodreads or Amazon algorithms. We didn’t get the New York Times or Wall Street Journal to know what books those illustrious newspapers put on their best seller lists. I guess she just took a chance on a book or an author. She would leave me in the Children’s Room, I’d grab a book and sit on the little seat in the alcove, safely watched over by the librarian. Later, we’d fill a paper sack from Big Bear Grocery with our books and head home.
In summer our library run was simple, cross the street to the elementary school where every Thursday the bookmobile would be parked. The big, blue bus had steps at the front and back and where there would be seats on a school bus, there were book shelves. The same people worked there, year after year. Mom greeted them all by name, like they were old friends. I guess they were, old book friends. The check out lady always had her red hair styled in a bee-hive and wore black rimmed, cat’s eye glasses.
The libraries of my life are like old friends to me. The main library with the alcove, the adjoining chapter book section, that building is gone now, replaced by a brand new library with all the bells and whistles. The big,blue bookmobile has been replaced by a small branch library shaded by maples, still within walking distance of my old house.
When I married and we lived in Boston, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be able to walk to the main branch of the Boston Public Library on my lunch break. I would lose myself in the stacks, finding new authors just by wandering the aisles. Visiting the old section with the reading room was like going back in time. The branch near my house was cozy and convenient.
During my time living in Key Biscayne, an island 7 miles from downtown Miami, I became friends with all the people that worked at my local branch. In that way, I guess I’m like my mom. Martha, one of the librarians there, knew my reading tastes so well, she’d reserve new books for me by my favorite authors, without my asking. It was like a face-to-face Goodreads! My daughter and I spent many Saturdays in the Children’s room, reading books at the miniature tables and chairs, carting home stacks of books in the basket on my bicycle.
Now I enjoy interacting on my social media book groups. It’s a place where we all feel a kinship. Nobody judges our ever growing TBR. Chatting about our favorite books and authors is like chatting about old friends. I’ll close with a favorite quote from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”