I packed three books to go to my parents for the weekend – really it was more like a 30 hour trip. I went to help out after my dad had a series of small strokes that followed a severe stroke a couple years ago. My mom is his caretaker. Is is a lot.
Before I left I checked the fifth Harry Potter book on audio out of the library for my daughter. She’s seven and loves audio books. Since I introduced her to the literary crack that is Harry Potter she’s been flying through them. I knew she was worried about me. And I knew if she had an audio book she was into she could squirrel herself away in her room and get lost in a story.
My mom calls it defensive eating -when we eat not because we’re so hungry but to prevent being hungry later on. (Did I mention we’re Jewish?) Anyway, sometimes I practice defensive library use. I check books out to avoid being without one at my fingertips.
I brought the following books:
You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein -a re-read but one that is light and smart and makes me laugh.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi -my current YA fiction read. The story of Fabiola who emigrates to the US alone to live with her Aunt and cousins after her mom is detained.
Astrophysics for People In a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson – because I’ve never read anything by him and I heard him talk about it brilliantly on the radio. And because sometimes it’s good to get distracted by things that are a lot bigger than you are.
I didn’t pick up a single one -okay maybe a few pages of You’ll Grow Out of It before bed, but that was it. But I knew they were there. I knew if/when things got hard or painful that those books were there for me. I’m not a religious person but I imagine this is how it feels to have that kind of spiritual faith.
When I open the pages of a well loved book I know that the words will be in the same order they were before, that the plot will arc in the same direction. When I read something by a trusted and loved author I know I am investing myself in something that could show me the interconnectedness of all things, or a world wildly different from my own but that resonates with me emotionally.
“We read to know we’re not alone,” is a quote often attributed to C.S. Lewis but there’s some controversy around that. I’m not surprised I’m sure it’s one many people have said or thought. I know I have.