Jul 25, 2005

Three generations of bookworms

My mother has come over from the US, to attend her mother's funeral. She went with me to see the minister to discuss details about tomorrow's funeral and the eulogy. We thought we had covered everything, but just now remembered one thing about Grandma that was so obvious that we missed it: Her love of books.

My childhood home with Grandma and Grandpa included a room that was lined with books. Grandpa built shelves and Grandma put books on them: Fiction and non-fiction, glossy coffee table books and cheap paperbacks. Murder mysteries, history books, biographies, classic novels, how-to books, travel books, art books, books about cats, flowers, Norway, Germany, the pyramids, science, astrology, meditation, yoga, diet, etc. I once asked her if she had read all those books and she said she had.

Grandma's love of reading got passed on to her daughter and granddaughter. Mom is immersed in a book right now while I blog, which is what reminded her of her mother's voracious reading habit. I myself have yards of bookshelves, and there's always two or three books in progress on my nightstand. When I was a kid, I could spend an entire afternoon in one place, finishing a brand new Nancy Drew mystery. I'll still sometimes stay rooted to the spot to finish an exciting book.

I have always claimed that if you have something good to read with you, you are never lonely. Books can take you places you can't go to physically. And sometimes where a book takes you is a place where no person can join you. Some of my most pleasant moments and some of my most enlightening moments have been due to books.

I can remember walking into the two story high library at Dublin's Trinity College, and just standing there with a huge, goofy grin on my face, revelling at the sight of All Those Books. It wasn't the thought of having all that to read that was the cause of my spontaneous joy; it was the thought that so much of all kinds of human knowledge and experience and ideas were right there, at my fingertips. All I had to do was read.

I often got that feeling standing in Grandma's "library" when I was a kid. My choices were unlimited. Any bound back with printing on it was an adventure waiting for me.

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