In honor of National Library Week, I thought I would share with you guys what it was that first made me fall in love with books, and, how they ultimately made me the learner, thinker, doer, dreamer and all-around booknerd I am today.
The first library that I was introduced to was actually not a library at all. I guess in some ways it was, but not in the traditional sense. Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to go to my grandparents’ house. I mean, what kid doesn’t like going to grandma and grandpa’s house, especially when said grandparents have a not-so-secret candy drawer and let you stay up way past your bed time during sleepovers?
There are certain things that a person never forgets, things that when you see or smell or feel even many years later, takes you back to a specific time and place. For me, some of these things include Avon-brand soap (my grandma swore by this and this alone and I can’t help but be transported to her bathroom whenever I smell it), the taste of my grandpa’s homemade chili, old-school Tupperware containers and of course….my grandma’s massive book collection.
My grandma was one of the best people I knew and to this day is my biggest hero and inspiration. She had this innate ability to light up a room and radiate positivity and happiness wherever she went. I’d like to think I got this very same outlook on my life from her. My grandma was sick for a good majority of her life—arthritis and cancer can really take a toll on a person, not only physically, but emotionally as well. But she never let the pain cast a shadow on her smile, her outlook on life. That, that is what made her so incredible! My grandma couldn’t do a lot of things due to her illness, but she could read. And read she did.
She was the OG booknerd, y’all!
There was a spare bedroom in my grandparent’s house which my grandpa used to refer to as the “junk room.” It used to be my aunt’s old room but after she moved out, they used it as storage for all kinds of
treasures junk. However, I always knew it as “the library.” Directly to the right of the doorway sat a giant bookshelf, spreading wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling chock-full of paperbacks and hardcovers. My grandma was a fan of romance novels (think back-in-the-day Fabio fabulousness). I remember my face turning all fifty shades of red every time I’d pick up a book and look at the cover, shirtless men on horseback and women with, let’s just say, very big, ummm, assests. I also remember thinking, “Damn! My grandma is so cool!”
My grandma could read up to sometimes two books in a day, three on a good day. She had a spot in “the library” just for me, a collection of my favorite Dr. Seuss, Beverly Clearly, and Amelia Bedilia books which we would read together sitting in her big, comfy recliner, often falling asleep mid-chapter. To this day, it’s one of my favorite memories, just me, my grandma and a great book. I don’t think I ever realized it back then, but I now know why my grandma loved to read so much. Books allow you to disappear from your life, at least for an hour or two, transporting you into another world, another time and place leaving all worries, cares and pain behind. Books transform the way you think, they fill your heart with wonder and create a sense of comfort, giving you something to relate to, to look forward to. My grandma may have been sick, but these books? These books were in a way more effective than any prescribed or OTC medicine could ever be.
It was my grandma who really instilled in me the passion, the love of reading and all things book. She showed me how truly powerful they could be. When I was four, my grandma decided it was high time I got my very own library card. We bundled up in our coats and mittens and on a cold and snowy day in December, made a trip to the local public library. I remember standing in awe at the sheer magnificence of it all, that you could take these books home! To read! And then come back and get more! FOR FREE!
Is this heaven? No, it’s
Iowa the library.
Books to me represent a chance, an opportunity to grow, to learn, to challenge and allow yourself to experience, feel and see things that you have never done so before. Books hold a certain kind of magic. They are infinitely timeless. I also think that books hold a special place in my heart because of my grandma—it’s something that connects me with her, a bond that we will always share.
There are certain things that a person never forgets, things that when you see or smell or feel even many years later, takes you back to a specific time and place. Books are one of those very things—you never forget what you were wearing or where you were sitting when something amazing happened in the book you were reading, when you turned that last page and realized that it was over.
Sitting on a comfy chair, book in hand and (often times) falling asleep mid-chapter, I know my grandma is right there with me, laughing, ugly crying and enjoying ever last word.
Pretty powerful little guys, aren’t they?
Be sure to stop by your local library this week and get reading today! You’ll thank me tomorrow. 😉