05 February 2009


I am unashamedly in love with books. This love affair has lasted my whole life, nurtured by mentors and teachers who have shared their favourites with me and have recommended other literary treasures.

I knew I loved reading but I didn't realize how much I loved books until I returned to my local library today after an absence of almost 4 years (also, my previous fines followed me as well, much to my dismay). This was the library I had poked around for pretty much all of my childhood and young adult-hood (see here).

When I was in university I had a great library at my fingertips (Koerner Library) and plus I had an endless reading list taking History and English, so going to the library was the last thing on my mind.

Today I had what has been called "a Jonah day" (10 points if you know where that saying is from)... and when M came home he took one look at me and sent me out (I have such a good husband). I had been talking about going to the library because I had recently finished the Twilight series and was looking for something else to read.

So I went to my hometown library. As soon I as walked in I was bombarded by a whole host of good memories and just inhaling the scent of paper and glue and bindings lifted my spirits. As I nosed around the Classics and Canadiana sections and moved to Adult Fiction, I realised a few things: First, how much I just love books. The sight and smell of them, the endless possibilities they represent... Second, how much I miss my own library, currently sitting in boxes in a storage shed at my grandparents-in-law. Third, this library does not have a good selection. Fourth, this might have been the reason my teenage years were so full of random book picks (again, see here). Fifth, I might as well let the librarians do the work for me, so I went to the computer and requested all the books that I wanted to read but couldn't find. They will conveniently be delivered to my library where I can pick them up.

Anyways, do you remember that scene in the movie Beauty and the Beast where Lumiere and Cogsworth show Belle the library and the books reach up the ceiling and she needs a ladder to get to them all? (can you feel the excitement here?) That is my dream library! Built-in solid oak bookcases, hardwood floors, a big desk, deep leather armchairs with burgundy velvet ottomans and, of course, a fire crackling merrily in the hearth... a place where characters could come to life and you could be transported to an unknown land, all by picking up a good book...

In my younger days I had wanted to marry an member of the English nobility (not necessarily a duke or baron, a minor title would have suited) because those manor houses have fantastic libraries and that was the only way that I could see of obtaining one...the idea of being "Lady Di" also had its attractions... but it was those rooms full of first editions I was after...

Well, I married someone with a Dutch pedigree as spotless as my own and there you have it. And I must admit that building my own library has been a great adventure, one that I never would have had if I had married my English lord. What fun is there in books that are not your own? The whole fun in loving books is to make them your own, with pencilled in notes, underlines, spilled coffee or tea (or even oatmeal, if you're making oatmeal for breakfast and the book is so good you can't put it down, so you stir the cereal and read at the same time). The quest for the next book in an eagerly awaited series, the excited uncertainty when you pick a up a new author you haven't read before, the endless discussions (or agonies!) over good books with good friends (that Mr. Darcy! or Elizabeth or Harry or Edward or Emma or Tess or Anne).

One thing I am really excited about is the prospect of sharing this love with my little girl. To relive Bilbo's adventures or Anne's shenanigans with her will be so much fun. And perhaps one day in the far future, when I'm old and grey, grandchildren will come to my library, pick a favourite book, curl up on my lap in an old chair with a fire merrily blazing beside us and... who knows what adventures we will have? But I know for certain that it will be good.


Jeanette said...

As you were writing about English nobility (to which I also dreamed of growing up) my mind went immediately to Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and then, I read further, and apparently you were thinking the same thing too!
Keep up the reading (although it can be an expensive habbit if you don't go to the library). It's time you came out east and took a look at my rather volumous (sp?) collection!

cara said...

That was a really lovely post, Di. I, too, am a bibliophile and have dreams of having a library. However, that was a dream I had to give up in exchange for living abroad. I am storing some books, but also got rid of many before moving. It was a sad day. And now I am part of a book exchange group which means I part with books on a regular basis. That was really difficult for me at first. Now, I am just so happy to be able to read what I want, pretty much when I want, that I overlook the fact that these books won't be staying in my collection. Because I cdon't have a collection anymore. :( I sure hope our daughters love to read as much as us!