There weren’t many well worn, coveted books in my house when I was growing up
unless I count The Poky Little Puppy, which I chose from the revolving rack at the grocery store
on a Friday morning shopping trip. I was four, I am sure of that, because it was just my mother and me, no brother yet to spoil our fun. My mother cut coupons, and it must have been a particularly lucrative week, if we were able to afford something other than the staples: squishy white Wonder Bread, Oleo, canned vegetables, hot dogs. I remember it took me a while to choose, slowly spinning the rack around and around, pulling out the books one by one and looking at the pictures on the covers. I was yet to read.
He did covet that set of small, blue leather bound volumes worn from his daily reading. He ignored the new ones my mom bought, one volume a week from the grocery store, Funk and Wagnalls, if I remember correctly. I have no idea where the blue ones came from and can’t imagine who read them before my dad. They had just always been there in the built-in bookshelf in the living room.
Each morning my dad chose a volume, not necessarily in alphabetical order, and planted himself in our one and only bathroom to read. As a result, he was a wealth of information.
Her genre was the monthly Reader’s Digest, kept in the cupboard of their fake blonde-wood double bed. I never actually saw my mom read; it must have been her pleasure after her housework was done and I was put to bed, but some mornings she would regale me with the human interest stories and Humor in Uniform, while I ate toast and jam.
It was usually empty of customers, just the librarian and me, maybe some old man reading the newspaper. The Children’s Room was always empty, so I headed to the tall brown bookcase
with biographies of famous people. I couldn’t imagine anyone else but me running their fingers
over the gold leaf titles, as I thoughtfully choose what volume to read again. I had read them dozens of times, at least the ones about women. I had no interest in Teddy Roosevelt or Abe Lincoln, but couldn’t get enough of Eleanor, Sacagawea, and Clara Barton.
Now I sadly say, my books are on my Kindle. I swore I would never get one, but when I realized the book I wanted to take on my travels took up too much room in my backpack, I had to cave.
I miss the smell of ink and must, the page turning, the notes in the margins. I know for sure that no one except for me has lovingly flipped through my Kindle, however for $4.99 on Amazon,
I can have The Poky Little Puppy delivered.