In almost every room of our house there are bookcases filled with books. They cover a wide range of topics that have caught our interest: plenty of novels, mysteries and spy stories, biographies, history, gardening, woodworking, reference books, beautiful leather-bound books on music and poetry that my grandmother treasured, and children’s books.
When my sister and I were little my parents read to us often. I remember my mother reading aloud the first in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Little House on the Prairie, and then I read the rest on my own. That was my introduction to the magical worlds books offered, and I never stopped. I went through the wardrobe to Narnia, fighting bravely with Aslan to whom I was devoted. I found secret gardens, rode horses that became champions against all odds. I cried for Beth as if she were my own sister, had adventures at sea with the Walker siblings, and lived in rabbit warrens. I spent one summer, to my sister’s dismay, at Tara and watched Atlanta burn. I loved, laughed, cried, and felt bereft at the end of each story or worse, series.
Books transported me to other places; they still do, although now I enjoy the craft of storytelling—writers who are “a fair hand at a clever turn of phrase” to quote my sister-in-law—almost as much as the tale itself. How John le Carré sucks you in with his first sentence every single time. How EB White, my favorite author, describes people and places so clearly, you see them right before your eyes.
Two of my cousins have girls who I think will be enthusiastic readers and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite books; I picked out a couple for them this Christmas.