“Not all those who wander are lost”–J.R.R. Tolkein. There are places I love to wander….along the shore at the beach, lost in thought and collecting shells. I either toss the shells like you do when you skip stones, or save them to bring home.
I love to wander through a park or a forest….observing the birds, looking at the fallen logs and trees….listening to the quiet. Wandering in nature restores my soul, spirit, heart, and mind. There is nothing like it for me.
I love to wander at thrift stores—looking for hidden treasures….of course I always look at the baskets and the pottery and furniture…but I ALWAYS end up by the books. There are some treasures to be found there.
Of course, the endless bountiful treasure is to wander the stacks at the library. Invariably I end up with a huge armload of books. I began reading really young. I had my own library card by the time I was 4 (which meant that I also had to be able to sign my name—that was the requirement!). I moved many times when I was growing up, so my first friends in every town were the books!
My life has been full of reading (and writing, too). Augustine Birrell explained it well, “Any ordinary man can…surround himself with two thousand books…and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy.” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to intimate that I have or have had an unhappy life. Rather, I mean that one of my “happy places” to go is wherever my current book takes me. I find reading to be a true delight. In fact, I agree with Jorge Luis Borges who said “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Amen, I say!
Here is a final anecdote about my love of books and how I passed it on. When my son was a preschooler he, too, fell in love with books. If we were passing by the library as we were doing other things, we would stop in… sometimes a few times a week. We would always leave with an armful of books, of course. We were always reading.
One day we were checking out books, and the librarian stopped mid-checkout. She said “you can’t check out any more books because you are at the maximum. (We hadn’t returned any books that day—we still had a bunch at home)”. I said “how many is the maximum?” “60”….my son said, “mama, can’t we check them out?” the librarian said she would hold the rest for us until we brought some back. She said “Ihave only had this happen maybe 3 times ever” …I was a bit mortified…..she was probably in her 80s! I mean SIXTY books—blush. My son very solemnly looked through the pile we’d have to leave behind and asked if he could switch some of them for some that she had checked out. We left as he regretfully looked back over his shoulder at the books he was leaving behind…as if he was leaving dear friends. When we got home he looked through the ones he still had at home and chose the ones he was going to return. He purposefully walked back out to the car and put them in the back seat so that we could return them on our next jaunt. Our next jaunt was later that day….he read through his new books and then pulled his little chair up by the window and looked out the window at the car. He said, “I miss my other books, mama!” . . . sigh…he was so darling!
So yes, my son loves to wander through books as well. I am so obsessed that I even got a Kindle so that when I travel I can bring a ton of books along without having to bring 5 suitcases!
I love to get lost in a book—but whenever I wander through a book I am truly home.