Growing up after World War II when Farmington was a much smaller town, the library was the hub of my little world. No one had any money then. Looking back, it is amazing we had such a rich and fulfilling lifestyle on such a tight budget. Having a library available was a great equalizer.
Every Thursday night after school, I walked to the library with my best friend or my sister to choose new books. We would stop at the drug store for a treat and then walk home loaded down with hopes of many new adventures hiding right in our book bag.
Visiting the library was the highlight of my week. Early in life, I learned that if you have a good book to read you are never bored or alone.
I was far from being a bookworm, but when I wasn’t out socializing with my friends or helping my mother, I could be found looking for information in our big fat “Book of Knowledge” or curled up with a good book. It matters little that I do not remember many of the books I read, because I was gaining information and laying a foundation for the future.
As a mother of small children, one of the sacrifices I made was rarely reading anything longer than a magazine or newspaper article during the daytime. Being a person who totally loses contact with the outside world when my nose is in a book, it was detrimental to my children’s safety.
Difficult as it is to admit, I do remember reading Helen Andelin’s “Fascinating Womanhood,” a self-help book that was all the rage in the ‘60s. The book was designed to teach us June Cleavers how to be happy in marriage.
A comical bit I still remember is how a wife should be able to admire and praise her husband for him to grow in nobility and confidence. Andelin advised if there is nothing good to say about him you can always start with, “I admire how you shave.”
I remember trying it and by golly, it works.
A young friend of mine says she uses the book in her literature classes in college because of the discussions it creates. Some of the ideas are a stretch, but others are worth thinking about.
I guess I should have kept it.
Self-help books go in and out of fashion, but the classics are, well, the classics, and something like Shakespeare is forever. The trick is to pick out the books worth reading.
Some of the writers today tend to throw in gratuitous angst or sex or dwell on dysfunctional characters. While it would be silly for every book to be like “Pollyanna,” I do prefer a character that, though their life may be difficult, maintains a valiant and redeeming attitude.
Writer Paxton Hood advised, “Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.”
When I have the opportunity to listen to my young grandchildren read a book instead of play on a computer, it pulls me back to that little girl who was learning about life through books.
Sometimes after reading, they bring out a sheet to be initialed. When that happens I want to write to their teacher, “She/he was spectacular! Keep up the good work — you are encouraging to great advantage.”
“Reading maketh a full man,” said Francis Bacon.
“None is poor save him that lacks knowledge,” according to The Talmud.
“All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been; it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books,” said Thomas Carlyle.
But instead, I just sign my initials and hug them, knowing the joy reading brings.