Really, I’ve loved them so long

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2013

Even in the pre-school years before I learned to read, I loved books. Daddy did voices in character, and what kid wouldn’t love that?

He still does a great Uncle Remus, but Robin Hood was my favorite. He says he would read it, skipping pages when he thought I was nodding off. I caught him every time, having long since memorized the text.

Decades later, when our Christopher was a toddler, he loved Good Night, Gorilla. Granddaddy read it to him in voice, and when that tiny boy memorized it, he memorized the voices, too. Just thinking of his gorilla-voice “good night, good night, good night,” still makes me smile.

When I learned to read, it was a three-block walk from the newspaper office to the public library. Six-year-old children were allowed to do things like cross the street by themselves, then, in that safe world we inhabited. I made the trip often.

The two rather dark, musty-smelling rooms stuffed full of books were ruled over by an ancient librarian. I am certain my appetite for books kept her busier than she wanted to be, but she was always kind.

When I graduated beyond the children’s small section, she sometimes questioned my selections, but she never not let me have the book I wanted.

My grandmother had years and years of Readers Digest book collections, but people didn’t buy books then in the way that we do now, at least the people I knew didn’t. First, the nearest bookstore was about two hours away. Secondly, there were two rooms full of books three blocks away, and another library at the school.

But my personal collection had grown long before came to be. When books were only a click away, that collection grew exponentially. The last time we moved, Honey, who now has a worse book habit than I do, promised that if I ever asked him to move again, we were having a book burning. That was seven years and many titles ago. It might be a book inferno now.

But I like the way they look on the shelves of my den, and I really don’t like parting with the good ones. There’s a wonderful library less than a block from the office, but those nice people want you to bring their books back!

Besides. There are some books that I like so much, I read them again and again. The characters are good company, and seem like old friends. Read To Kill A Mockingbird or anything from Eudora Welty and you’ll think, “I KNOW these people.”

A worn copy of The Great Gatsby waits for me on my bedside table. And if God is good and Amazon is on target, there’s a brand new Khalid Hosseini waiting on my doorsteps.

Gotta run, y’all. It’s the weekend and there’re books to be read. If you need me, you know where I’ll be.