(Repost May9th, 2017)
Reading is to the Mind, what Exercise is to the Body. As by the one, Health is preserved, strengthened and invigorated; by the other, Virtue (which is the Health of the Mind) is kept alive, cherished and confirmed. – Addison, Joseph (1672-1719)
In this digital age we live in, with gadgets that can order everything from pizza to a car just by the sound of your voice, I ponder on the forgotten art of reading a real book. Here I sit on the floor of my closet pouring through hundreds of books I have collected through the years.
My high school Algebra book… my (4) Calculus books from college that each set me back $100… the Bible my parents gave me when they shipped me off to college… and all the books I’ve added along my journey.
I’m reminded of a time when I used to frequent book stores, garage sales, and auctions buying books for less than $1. I have always believed it to be a sin to throw away books. Of course, this OCD behavior is only reinforced by being married to a writer.
My love of reading was fostered as a child growing up with two loving parents who enjoyed reading to me every night. My Dad however, took it to another level. He is the only person I know who has read every volume of the World Book and Britannica encyclopedias from cover to cover.
The awakening for me was when my family visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina back in the 70’s. Yes it’s true this national treasure is an architectural marvel of opulence, but the impressive thing was the two-story library built for George Washington Vanderbilt II, a voracious reader. It was stated on the tour that he read every book in the library. He is credited with reading 3,159 books during his lifetime, approximately 80 per year.
The Biltmore library planted that desire in me to surround myself with books. The feel of a binder in your hand.. the sound of paper cracking with each turned page… the smell of dust and mildew building the anticipation of losing one’s self in a good story. Now as I sit here on the floor, I have to decide which books go to Costa Rica and which ones will be donated.
Que sera, sera.