One’s favorite book should be protected, safe from the opinions of others, packed away in one’s heart with lilac-scented tissue paper or perhaps copious amounts of Bubble Wrap. P 140
These last few weeks have had their share of ups and downs. There have been moments of joy and unbridled laughter, matched with sorrow, tears and desolation. Comfort was found in hugs from friends, the kind words of strangers and the matched harmony of voices lifted in song. As much as I want to hang on to September, turning the page on the calendar has its advantages.
Comfort conjures up thoughts of warm blankets, soft foods or binge watching a season of a beloved TV show. I enjoy all of those things, but when I am truly in need of saving, I seek solace in a book; slipping in through the spaces between the lines, crawling through the places between words. Sometimes I sit in quiet contemplation among the stacks at my library. Some of these books are like old friends who’d put a hand on my shoulder if books could do such things.
My weeks are spent wearing my librarian’s cap, on weekends I moonlight as a bookseller. My bookstore just celebrated its 20th anniversary. We served cake and gelato to some of our dearest customers. We had much to celebrate. Running an independent bookstore in today’s world takes cunning, creativity, adaptability, knowledge and extreme thoughtfulness. Though we recently expanded our physical space, our selections are still carefully curated. I’ve been there for 13 years and it’s the relationship with the customers that I treasure most.
Because really, I love talking about books. Living among them. Breathing them in. Imagining the words that flow through my veins. And when I find a new favorite I share it with others. Usually. Sometimes I hug it to my chest as if the text will imprint on my skin. Carrying that reminder on me as if I only need to look at my hands or my arms to be reminded of the words that transported me to a place far from here.
One of our new projects at the store involves customers and their best-loved books. We’re collecting lists now. I hesitate to try and create such a list, it’s always changing and evolving depending on my mood. That’s why I often think about the books in a Top 5 way. The Bookthief, The Poisonwood Bible. Ahab’s Wife, The Goldfinch… These titles often come out in a tumble if people ask me to list the books I hold most dear. The whole list is long and extensive, but these few are always jockeying for the top slot. There’s that last slot though, who should it go to? Extremely Loud, The Timetraveler’s Wife, Middlesex? Hard to say. It may be that none of these books would even grab a spot on someone else’s list. But each of them connected with me in a way that grants me ownership of these novels. The authors may disagree but there are some books that I consider to be mine, all mine. But if you happen to like them too, then surely we’ll be friends.
What about it, what’s in your Top 5? What books do you hold most dear?
Which books are your secret refuge? The ones you reread over and over, finding new pieces of you along the way?
And if not for all-time, what about the ones you love right now? Which book has your heart?