The best summers of my youth, the ones before I started working full-time at the beach concession stand, were spent reading. I’d ride my bike or walk to our local library and fill my back-pack. With no school I was free to stay up as late as I liked to finish a book the same day. My favourite addition to lazing about reading all day was candy. Book + candy = nirvana for ten year-old me. It’s really quite baffling that I went on to become an internationally decorated athlete.
In the fall I pared down our book collection. Chris still has a few titles but my collection is limited to what you see above (plus two to be returned to my brother). When I really considered what had sentimental value to me, and what I would read again, these were the ones I wanted to keep.
- One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant – gift from one of my best friends and a beautiful book to read, work through, and read again. Gotta get your thinking cap on and open your brain and soul for it.
- Two copies of 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Chris gave me the first copy on our second date and he proposed with the second copy
- No Cry Sleep Solution – great book but don’t ask me how my kid sleeps =)
- The Rattlebag – anthology of poetry from my university days
- Brewster’s Phase and Fable – family copy I got when my mom was cleaning house
- *Not shown: The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield – just received this as a gift and will be keeping it for a while before passing on.
A piece I wrote for Babble on 20 things you can live without to reduce clutter was recently published (yeah paid writing!). I was disheartened to read some of the comments on getting rid of books. At first I felt attacked and insulted. The insinuation was that only an illiterate fool would get rid of most of their books.
If you keep a small library does that mean you don’t read? If you don’t hold onto every title you’ve ever read and display them prominently in your home, does that mean you don’t respect literature?
I’m well aware that I am immersed in the simple living culture. That my view point has changed and could be considered radical. That I have, and will continue to have, a different idea of what I really need, and what my home and children really need, than others.
But as I reread the negative comments and looked beyond the hostile tone I unearthed what was really being said. I am a reader. I love books. I value books. That was the point that was being made.
Here’s my question: do you really need all the books to tell us you are an avid reader and a lover of words?
- Maybe if you borrowed instead of buying books, you’d have more time to read.
- Maybe if you let the library dust the books, instead of keeping your overstuffed shelves, you’d have more time to read.
Courtney from NomadBaby, a teacher now taking time away from career to travel in an RV for a year with her husband and young daughter, weighed in in the comments section. I was delighted to read her balanced and knowledgeable take on books and children: A home library is nothing if you don’t engage the reader.
Owning things does not equate to doing things.
Does owning a treadmill make you a runner?
I want to raise a reader. It doesn’t matter how many books I have on my book shelf, Henry won’t develop into an avid reader unless I read to him. If we read to him, and if he sees us reading books for entertainment, knowledge and pleasure, we increase the odds that he will read for entertainment, knowledge and pleasure.
Last week, while Katy was watching Henry, he was flinging books off the shelf and then paused on one book. Katy said he looked the book over for a moment, walked over to her (she was sitting in the rocking chair – where we read most of our books), handed Katy the book and then put his arms up to be picked up.
He gets it.
It’s not the books on the shelf that make a reader, it’s the act of reading.
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