My Books, My Friends

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“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”

~ Edward P. Morgan

When I was a young girl, my mother would often call out to me and say “Your friends are at the front door.  They want to know when you’ll be going out to play.”   From my bedroom,  where I was curled up in my armchair like a content puppy — nose deep in a gripping novel, I would shout back (adjusting my glasses, as I did so): “Tell them I’ll be out as soon as I finish this chapter!”  Ten chapters later, my mother would peek around the door and say “Go out and get some fresh air. Your friends will begin to think that you don’t like them anymore.”  Reluctantly, I would put a bookmark in my book and then, very lovingly, place it down on the side table.  I’d walk past my mother, who smiled and shook her head (did she actually roll her eyes at me … really?).  

Many decades later, nothing much has changed.  With a few exceptions.  My mother died over seven years ago and I miss her so much that it hurts.  My childhood friends still live in Canada (while I now live in South Florida).  But, we still keep in touch.  Thank goodness for Facebook!

As fate would have it, my husband likes to spend some time in the company of his own mind, as I do.   So, when I get lost inside my head, reading a thought-provoking piece of fiction or non-fiction, I am rarely interrupted. 

Virtually every room in our house has bookshelves filled with books.  Every possible discipline — from literature, biographies, history, law and philosophy to engineering, architecture, music and art.  And everything in between.  

They are not there for show.  I say this because a few people (not readers themselves) have actually asked whether we truly read them!  We read them.  Some, we’ve read over and over again.

“The scholar only knows how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity.  When all that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their steady value.”

Washington Irving

When I walk into a room full of books, I am filled with a sense of comfort and well-being.  I know every single book that is in the house and each is alphabetized and organized by discipline/category. 

Libraries are sacred sanctuaries filled with knowledge — private libraries, public libraries, university libraries …. all of them!  That wonderfully musty smell of old leather and paper, the silence (you can hear a pin drop), the rows and rows of books … it’s heaven.

“A good book is the purest essence of a human soul.”

Thomas Carlyle  (excerpt from his speech in support of the London Library, 1840)

Reading is not only good for the soul, it exercises the mind and helps reduces stress. 

Yes, my books are my friends. They are the gifts I treasure most. And, as a writer, they never cease to encourage, challenge and humble me.

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