Friday, July 19, 2019
I Turn to My Mother’s Book
There are some books it takes me a while to get through, but I don’t see any point in just flipping through long books on serious topics. If one is going to take the time and trouble to read such books, it only makes sense to read them carefully. The good ones merit attention, and why bother with any other kind? After a long trudge through history, however, and at the end of a week marked by more immediate political strife, I needed to a break, and so I picked up this old book that belonged to my mother when she was a girl and that my sisters and I read repeatedly when we were young.
I turn to her book to hold my mother close again, since we lost her nine months ago, and also to try to capture something of what she must have been like when she was a schoolgirl.
I turn to my mother’s book to recapture my own girlhood, too, those long summer days spent reading -- sometimes reading this very book -- on our family home’s front porch, corn rippling in the fields across the road, apples ripening in the trees below and behind the house. Each soft, worn page that has worked loose from the binding I turn over with care as I read.
Was my parents’ little grey-shingled house in South Dakota my mother’s “house of dreams”? They look so young and happy in the old black-and-white snapshots.
I am not a collector of valuable editions, but the value of some of my books goes way beyond price. As I hold this dilapidated volume, an inexpensive reprint to begin with of a title published in 1917, I know that I hold a treasure in my hands.