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Getting Lost in a Good Book Brings Me Joy

January 13, 2010

       

My love affair with books began when I was quite young. Way before I was old enough to know what a full-blown love affair was, I was already hooked: the adventures contained in the pages, the smell of the paper, the promise of forbidden love!       

Books…You had me at hello.       

Early on, I remember feeling almost desperate to finish reading The Boxcar Children. What could be more exciting than living with your siblings in an old, abandoned boxcar? Our school library only had two copies of this book and I would reserve it over and over again. I would sneak that book into bed with me at night and read it under the covers with my small flashlight. As a child of the 1970’s, I was often lectured on the dangers of reading in the dark and sitting too close to the TV, both of which could lead to blindness. As much as that scared me (Goodness gracious! Blindness!?!  Then I wouldn’t be able to read!), I simply couldn’t help myself.       

As I got older I would ride my bike to our public library a couple times a week. I would slowly stroll up and down the aisles and select books with beautiful titles or interesting spines. After I made my careful selections, I would check out my treasures at the circulation desk (back in the days of library cards tucked in pockets with their little rubber-stamped due dates), and ride home with my stack of books gripped tightly to my chest. Paula Danzinger taught me about the dangers of shaving my legs too quickly(lots of scabs and scars) and plucking my eyebrows unevenly (must get special permission to wear sunglasses to school) while Judy Blume taught me about first love.       

As an adult, reading has remained my reward and one of life’s great pleasures. Finished all the laundry ten minutes before I have to pick the kids up? Pick up a book! All done helping the kiddos with their project? Extra time to read! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that when Emily (my firstborn) was an infant, I would often read to her aloud from my books. I couldn’t help it; sometimes I was in the middle of a particularly good book and just couldn’t put it down. In those cases, Emily went on the adventure with me. I have spent hours and hours and hours reading to my kids (mostly from their books, not mine). Now that they are all voracious readers on their own, we often read together, side-by-side in my bed. I no longer have to hide under the covers to read at night. Thankfully, my husband sleeps just fine with the bedside lamp on.       

When I was in my early thirties, I started a book club. We met monthly in my home. We would get together, discuss the book, eat yummy food and drink good wine. At the end of each meeting, we would assign the book a rating. During one of our monthly meetings, a friend told me about a woman featured on Oprah who had read a book a week for a whole year. I remember thinking that seemed like a pretty easy way to earn a sit-down with Oprah. I started to wonder how many books I read in a given year. I honestly had no clue.  So I decided to keep a book journal to record what I had read.      

   

A very special young lady, Elle, gave me a turquoise blue journal and it immediately became my book journal. At first I was just going to record the title and author, but then I got carried away and decided I needed to rate and critique each book, too. The result is a little time capsule of the last 5 years or so. I love looking back through the pages. Sometimes I wrote little comments in the edges like, “read during camping,” or, “Illini make it to the Final Four!”  Sometimes I get a little behind and the stack of books waiting to be logged becomes quite large. The rule is I’m not allowed to put the book away until I write about it. Sometimes I’m at a loss about what to write. Other times I feel like I could go on and on. My book journal has become one of my prized possessions.      

   

Each January, I go back through the year’s worth of journal entries and pick a “Top-Ten” list. I send out my list to friends and family. Some people, like my mom, dutifully go through my “Top Ten” list and read each one. Others ask for recommendations for just “funny” books. Inevitably, a book that makes my “Top Ten” ends up being in someone’s “Bottom Ten.” Neither my sister nor my mom enjoyed “The Girls.” In fact, I’m pretty sure they both hated it. Really hated it. They both bring that book up every now and then at family gatherings, “Remember that book The Girls?  That book gave me nightmares!  What on earth was she thinking recommending that book?”       

So all of this has been a huge lead up to announcing the beginning of the So Very Vicki Thursday Book Review. Each Thursday (starting next week) I’ll talk about a book I’ve read and enjoyed. My hope is that you’ll read some of these books and leave me a comment or two telling me what you thought. It’s okay if you end up not liking one of my books (Mom and Christy), you can tell me that, too. I’d also LOVE to see your book suggestions. I’m always on the hunt for new books. Getting lost in a good book is one of life’s joys!       

XO,       

Vicki

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Deanna permalink
    January 13, 2010 8:59 pm

    I still miss the book club!! Sometimes I didn’t always like what we read (Vinegar Hill!), but it definitely made me stretch my reading horizons. Hey, I read Atlas Shrugged. And my favorite book of all time (so far) is still The Sparrow.

  2. January 13, 2010 10:17 pm

    I miss it, too, Deanna! I’m not sure if you can see it or not, but “The Sparrow” was on the top of the pile in my favorites picture (it’s kind of cut off). I’m thinking about re-reading it. It was that good!

  3. Stephanie permalink
    January 14, 2010 3:14 am

    I am so glad I found your blog! As the No. 1 Boxcar Children Fan, I always wanted to know who had the book. And it was right down the street from me all that time. Wow. I can still smell the paper of the books from the library. Really, they couldn’t have gotten another copy since the entire grade wanted to read it? But that’s part of what made it so worth the wait. I have got to get it for my girls to read. That was my first favorite book, Little House on the Prairie runs pretty darn close to it, but Boxcar was my first true love. The big brother who takes care of the family? Okay, enough of my chit-chatting here, until next time – S

    • January 15, 2010 4:22 am

      So, so funny! Things were so different back then! I’m not sure it would have even occurred to them to buy a whole big bunch of copies. Now there’s 852 million different Boxcar Children books in the series–our public library has a whole section devoted to them. The first one is still my favorite, by far.

  4. Elle permalink
    January 14, 2010 3:42 am

    Five years? Has it really been that long? This blog reminded me of something – when we had our lovely trip to Barnes & Noble when we were in Chicago you told me to read Water For the Elephants. Honestly, I never got around to it. This summer when my mom and I were in California, I found it for $2 at the local library in Mill Valley! It was like you were there with me. 🙂

    • January 15, 2010 4:18 am

      Awww!! I love this story!! Have you read it? What did you think?

      • Elle permalink
        January 16, 2010 7:02 pm

        Still have not gotten around to reading it! I have a big ole stack of books right by my bed that I’m slowly chiseling down. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to read anymore!

  5. Tabi permalink
    January 14, 2010 2:50 pm

    Vicki, this blog is great! And truly so very Vicki! I miss our daily chats in Paris. I’m definitely bookmarking this blog!

    • January 15, 2010 4:20 am

      Thanks, Tabi! I miss hanging out, too. It was so great for Jack and I to each have a friend right across the street!

  6. Gayle permalink
    January 19, 2010 6:14 am

    Our third son, Jake, was also a huge fan of “The Boxcar Children.” Every payday we would go to Sam’s Club to buy more books in the series to add to his collection. We have them in a box somewhere. If any of your kids are interested you may keep them until Landon is ready for them. At age 2 11/12, you’ve got a good four or five months to relish them before the little genius needs them.

    • January 19, 2010 2:11 pm

      Thanks for the offer, Gayle! Sadly, all of my kids are past The Boxcar Children stage. (Darn them being such good readers!). : )

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