The Joy Of Books
This is my favorite topic - books! As a very young child I loved my books: indeed, all I ever wanted for Christmas was more books. My parents subscribed to the Junior Literary Guild for me and every month or so a book would arrive in the mail. It was the Pick of the Month by the Junior Literary Guild and I can remember how its special binding smelled and looked and what a thrill it was to open the package just for me. Another source of my books was my Aunt Madeline from Bangor, Maine. She had travelled extensively and a favorite country was China. She brought home an antique Chinese doll dressed in authentic clothes. When I visited her I could take Liu Li Chan from his special colorful bag and play with him on Aunt Madeline’s card table. When I left to go back home to Mt. Vernon, N.Y., Liu Li Chan was put back in his bag and stored away until my next visit. Great Aunt Madeline, however, followed up with letters from the little Chinese boy doll written on Chinese rice paper. The letters told of his life in China and of course this was a China of long ago, when my Aunt visited. She loved the Chinese people ad their polite traditions. I remember books she sent me, among which was The Chinese Children of Woodcutter’s Lane. There were other books sent by my relatives. Many were about children of other lands as I was fascinated with travel and used to collect travel folders. I once got a prize in school for a composition on My Chosen Profession which was to be a writer for National Geographic. Life intervened and led me in another direction. To get back to books: A Child’s Garden of Verses was my favorite book, kept with me all the time. There was also a series of books - Little Whoever from Holland or Sweden or Germany and all sorts of places - a whole set of those. There was Hans Brinker And The Silver Skates, Caddie Woodlawn, The Shire Colt, and especially the A. A. Milne books, When We Were Very Young, The House At Pooh Corner, Winnie The Pooh, Now We Are Six. A special favorite was Letters To Channy about a little boy who had to stay home and go to school while his parents travelled - to Indonesia, Europe and many interesting places, writing amusing letters back to Channy with charming illustrations almost like Our Hearts Were Young And Gay, which I enjoyed a little later. I still have some of those childhood books. They were good friends. Later, I remember when Gone With The Wind had just come out and my mother was reading it. I climbed up in her big bed and she read chapters to me. I still have that early edition. As a teen-ager, I read Rebecca under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. It was daylight when I finished. Sometimes as a young person I could be located in the library if my parents wondered where I was. Libraries have always seemed a peaceful, happy place and, as an adult, I worked in two libraries and did volunteer work in others. I’m happy we have such a good library at Pomperaug Woods with a great selection and new books coming in every month. I enjoy being on the Library Council. Many books have influenced me and have been unforgettable. The writing of Willa Cather is such beautiful descriptive prose, easy to read, and very meaningful. Travels With Charlie by Steinbeck is a work that resonates on many levels - Charlie is his standard poodle, an almost human traveling companion, and their trip together is as much philosophy as travel. The world of books is truly a joy. Opening a book, holding it, returning to favorite passages is, to me, far more pleasurable than one download on a computer.