My Life in 10 Objects: (#2) My Library Card and Books

August 17, 2014

“One book has always led to another with me . . .”
— Louis L’Amour, Education of a Wandering Man

My library card and a stack of books to read

My library card and a stack of books to read

“Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know
Are a substantial world, both pure and good.
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.”
— William Wordsworth

I wasn’t a particularly precocious child.  I didn’t learn to read until I started elementary school, and our reading program was based on the Dick and Jane readers.  But reading soon became a most pleasant pastime, a way to escape the narrow world of the farm where I grew up.  I remember that we had a small shelf of books at home, including a well-thumbed Uncle Wiggly book with glossy color plates.  And my mother made time for library visits during her trips to town for shopping.  In the summer, we walked a mile to Union Hill, where the bookmobile made a regular stop. Books in my childhood were read over and over.

So my library card is one of my most valuable possessions.  It gives me access to more books and information than I could ever absorb in my lifetime.  I recently looked at a pile of library books and noticed that the call numbers ran the range of the Dewey decimal system.  My interests vary widely.  When a good writer or author mentions other books, I often jot those titles down and add them to my “To-Read” list.

I wish there were more hours in the day to read.  I am so addicted to reading that I worry I live too much of my life in my head, and not enough out in the physical world.

“A truly good book . . . teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. . . . What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Winter: The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, February 19, 1841

“A purely mental life may be destructive is it leads us to substitute thought for life and ideas for action.  The activity proper to man is not purely mental because man is not just a disembodied mind.  Our destiny is to live out what we think, because unless we live what we know, we do not even know it.”
— Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Reading is my default when I am too tired to rouse myself to go do something or when I have too short a time to start a project or task.  I usually read in bed until I fall asleep.  Stories transport me.  Interesting points of view give me food for thought.  Reading gives me ideas for things to do and  inspires me to live a more interesting life.




7 Responses to “My Life in 10 Objects: (#2) My Library Card and Books”

  1. Kristin Says:

    A library card and books would certainly be on my list of 10 objects that define me. Growing up, some of my favorite summer days were the ones where we visited both SPL and KCLS. I can’t imagine how much I would spend if I purchased all of the books that I read (or how I would spend my commuting time if I didn’t read).

  2. I am a book reader addict too. I hope I am never cured of it. It is such a joy. It is woven into the fabric of my life and my mind. I was never an athlete. I prefer to sit and read. Sometimes I take a walk, so I won’t feel too guilty about not exercising. But books are so much fun!

  3. Elisa Says:

    I like “finishing by acting”. I have just about emptied out my book bins. I have several of those—I ought to, projects, and shoulds in my head. I feel stuck as to which to do. I also feel chided in stating it here, as I have, up to this point, wondered at your moments that are a lot the same. Hilarious(sarcasm) how such things can come round to bite me in the butt! If only my case of the if onlies is resolved by taking Z to college Thursday and K beginning today! (it won’t be, Z and I are having increasing noticing and then anxiety about how much the Asperger issue creates unknown things and wonder upon ability to be independent) I think that we have planned as best we can. I think we are both looking forward to making the attempt.

    I think that in either case, there might be room to create new book bins from my To Read List and to see if my head might stop spinning enough to enjoy reading.

  4. shoreacres Says:

    That quotation from Merton is spot on. Action/reflection, in a reciprocal relationship. It’s what Anne Morrow Lindbergh talked about in “Gift From the Sea.” It’s Thoreau, and Dillard, and a whole passle of others — especially writers – who’ve come to understand the relationship between the external and internal worlds.

    Thoreau got it right. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

  5. […] My Life in 10 Objects (#2): My Library Card and Books, August 17, 2014 […]

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