Sunday, April 12, 2015
My Favorite Books
Reading was not a priority in my home. I never saw my parents read a book. My mother read the newspaper each day, but considered reading for pleasure a waste of time. My father spent his free time building projects out of wood or tackling a steady stream of home repairs.
As a result of the lack of interest in reading in my home, I didn't go to the public library until I was thirteen. Only then, when I checked out the six books maximum, did I begin to discover worlds and adventures beyond the walls where I lived.
Checking out books ensured a return trip to the library in two weeks, when I got to choose six more. The cycle continued throughout the summer, ending when school began. For some reason, the summer I was thirteen was the only period of time I went regularly to the library.
The Diary of Anne Frank (35 cents), A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (The price was worn through age.) by Betty Smith and To Kill A Mockingbird (60 cents) by Harper Lee were my first purchases. I still treasure these books that rest on my bookcase not only for their literary value, but also for the way I identified with the main character.
Each book involved a young girl in circumstances that were less than ideal, just like I was experiencing. Anne Frank began writing her diary when she was thirteen, chronicling her thoughts while she and her family hid from the Nazis.
Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird) lived in a motherless home with her father and brother. Scout, who ages from six to nine in the book, noted events living in the South with her lawyer father, who defended an African American man.
Reading these books over and over and identifying with these resilient girls, offered strength and encouragement as I, too, lived in a chaotic, dysfunctional home. Escaping to the worlds each girl inhabited provided companionship and friendship as close as the small desk where I stacked the books.
What was the first book you received? What was the first book you purchased?
Prayer: God, thank you for the ways you provide community through words and stories that are secular, but come from the hands of writers whose skills you have created and blessed. You work in many ways to reach those who celebrate and suffer. Amen.