The books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book. My aunt Mimi gave me a child's introduction to archaeology when I was six, and coming upon that book now, I am taken back to my bedroom on Flood Drive in San Jose, reading in bed at night, and the precise moment when I understood that the written word "says" was pronounced "sez" rather than rhyming with the plural of "hay." I can see the brown cowboy bedspread, lariats and corrals rampant, feel the orange-tasseled fringe of it, and know again the child I was. Find an old book from your childhood, take a good whiff, and suddenly you're living Proust.
There's nothing exceptional in my reading history, and that's why I've chosen to detail it. For those who are afflicted with book lust, those for whom reading is more than information or escape, the road to our passion is quite simple, paved merely by the presence of printed matter.
It's a common story; fill in your own blanks: I was _____ years old when I happened on a novel called ________, and within six months I had read every other book by the writer known as __________.
I was fifteen. The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck.
- Lewis Buzbee
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop