Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's fall. Along with changing leaves and cooler evenings, school is starting. Shouts of children's voices ring out as they pass the house in the morning, new backpacks aboard, on their way down the hill to school. We have a first grader living with us this school year (along with his mom and sister while dad is working all over the country). This morning, during our new ritual of sitting on the front steps to wait for his carpool, Gabe reminded me of another sign of fall--book orders.

I have always been a reader. I taught myself to read (with a few of the side effects that always come along with teaching yourself anything), so that partway through my first grade year, I was moved to second grade. More stories there. Suffice it to say that, from a very early age, I could never have enough books. My school had a meager library, although the biography section was pretty good--I read everything in it; our town's only library was miles away and our family had only one car, which my dad took to work, so we rarely checked books out. Our family didn't have very much money, so when the book orders came, I would beg, and my parents would eventually relent: I could order one book--and ONE BOOK ONLY. As I recall, the books cost under a dollar then, a sign of times and other things, I suppose.

I would spend hours pouring over the book orders, probably a good reading experience in itself. I would narrow the choices down to five, then to three. Then I would try to think which one of those I really had to have. It was a tough decision to make, but eventually I would decide: either a Nancy Drew mystery or a Cherry Hill book about nursing. On rare occasions, something random like Little Women (my favorite book for two years). Once I tried Old Man and the Sea--fifth grade, if I remember correctly. I knew of Hemingway and thought I should read what grown-ups read. It was torture. I didn't veer away from Nancy Drew or Cherry Hill for a long time after.

Today, I have an office full of books. I have a home full of books--they are in every room of the house: literally. I have books stacked on my nightstand, my dresser, and the baker's rack in the kitchen. Books in the living room and books in the family room. Books in bathrooms and on the bench by the back door where we drop bags when we come in. I have books on my iPad and sometimes in my purse. Always in my suitcase. There are books everywhere in my life. But, still, when book orders start arriving in the fall, I feel the same sense of wonder--and desire--I remember from being young. I want to find another gem, another friend. So I still look at book orders, still dream of the wonder and possibility of a new book. And now I can do it with my grandson.

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