This post was brought to you by a night of eight straight hours of sleep with absolutely no wakings whatsoever (by me- E. has been sleeping through without a peep for almost two weeks now). I think I haven’t done that since July 2010. I still feel high as a kite as a result.
The other day I promised Bionic a book post in response to her post.
I love books.
I’m not sure it is possible to put into words just how much I love books. I read extremely quickly. I have always, always, found the time to read books for fun, even though my research requires me to pretty much spend all day reading books. When E. was little and would only nap in carriers strapped to my chest, I paced around our house reading books. When I was little, books were my escape from the world, a place where I could hide from my parents’ divorce, from all the moving around, from the years and years where I struggled to fit in, living in a small town where I’d arrived too late and couldn’t make friends. I have a few books that I reread every single year, without fail, which have become cherished friends. Most of the time I still cry at all the same places.
I have had a terrible book buying habit for years. When we first moved to this city, the apartment we rented was right up the street from a huge used bookstore. I had to set a monthly quota for how many books I was allowed to buy. I was out of control. During my undergrad, the university bookstore used to have “Hurt Penguin” sales a couple of times a year where you could get Penguins with unnoticeable defects for $3 each. Those were good days. I still get unbelievably excited about the prospect of a good second-hand sale.
It also pains me to say goodbye to books. When I cleared my stuff out of my mum’s house after settling back in Canada after five years overseas, I had thirteen boxes of books. I went through them all, trying to decide what to bring with me. These were books I hadn’t touched for FIVE years. I think I got rid of less than twenty. I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to paper, and books are no exception.
Q. loves books too. He doesn’t really read much fiction, and he’s quite fond of his Kindle (it makes me feel ill when I try to use it), but he’s even worse than I am for buying books because he has a yearly allowance from the university for research expenses. We buy books when we take cottage vacations- the trip to the bookstore and the new books we bring home are part of the holiday. If we are on vacation somewhere and there is an interesting bookstore, we’ll go in and poke around and (nearly always) buy something.
As a result, in our house we have two of the tall, skinny Billy bookcases from I.KEA, seven of the tall, fat Billys, plus another four smaller bookcases.
They are all full.
I expect Q. and I will need to have the floors of our house reinforced by the time we are old enough to retire. I am so not joking.
In the last couple of years, I’d learned to exercise some restraint. I’d been helped in this by the amazing, amazing public library system in my city. I’d become good at taking advantage of their hold system, and had developed some patience. There were still a few authors whose works I would buy the moment they came out, but for the most part I’d become better at borrowing rather than buying.
And then E. was born.
And, as I have just recently realized, I simply transferred my book-buying impulses to him. Because he, of course, barely had any books at all. And in our house, that just wouldn’t do.
E. now has quite a wonderful collection:
(These are his shelves in our living room. He has another bookcase in his room which has one shelf full of books with flaps and textures, which we give to him to read in his crib when we’re showering or spraying his diapers, as well as all of his bedtime books, and an entire shelf in my study of non-board books which he’s not yet ready to handle.)
A lot of them were gifts, because, and I’m sure this does not surprise you, I have a lot of friends and family members who also love books. A significant number were hand-me-downs from friends. But quite a few were bought by me. (And yes, now when we have cottage vacations, I buy books for E. as well as for myself on my trips to the bookstore.)
So I think you can get some sense of just how excited I was a few weeks ago when I realized that E. was starting to ASK me to read books to him, rather than resolutely ignoring me while I read, as he had done for the previous twelve months. And when I realized that he had FAVOURITES, that he could find those books on the shelf and CHOOSE them, no matter where I’d put them?
Well. My heart exploded. It was so cute, I didn’t even mind the fact that now that my son had favourites, that meant I read the same books over and over and over again.
I still don’t mind, even though I am very tired of some of his choices. I’m so happy to have a son who wants me to read to him. I hope I can continue to foster a love of reading in him. I hope he will one day have books that have been cherished friends for decades, as I do.
It’s been interesting watching his tastes develop. For the longest time, all he wanted us to read was Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? or Moo, Baa, LaLaLa! or Baby Faces Peekaboo (which is not really to my taste, but has proven to be the best book ever purchased, bar none). Occasionally we had requests for Doggies (also by Sandra Boynton) or Hop on Pop or Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. If you tried to read anything else, he would bodily pull the offending tome out of your hands, toss it aside, and then hold up his preferred choice.
Now he’s branching out a little. Sometimes this is a wonderful development (such as his new love for the toddler-friendly version of Mortimer, one of my favourite Robert Munsch books, or his current obsession with Matthew van Fleet’s Cat which was an impulse purchase by me when I was shopping online to stock up on flap books before our big flight down under). Sometimes both Q. and I are dismayed to see what is being requested over and over again (Playful Puppies Peekaboo and The Noisy Book of Kittens both come to mind- both hand-me-downs, both absolutely loathed by Q. and I for the insipid rhyming, both adored by E. What can you do?)
He has books on his shelf that we love, but he doesn’t care for yet (Old Bear, Diary of a Wombat, The Runaway Bunny, The Way Back Home, The Very Hungry Caterpillar). He has books on his shelf that we think are amusing because we are literary snobs (his counting primer of Pride and Prejudice, which was a gift, and the colours primer of Alice in Wonderland by the same company, which I bought because I liked the other one so much). He has books from both his countries (M is for Maple, Canada 1 2 3, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas), Koala Lou, and a whole series of books about wombats). He has books we read every night before bed (Goodnight Moon, It’s Time to Sleep My Love) and books he likes to look at on his own (any of the Baby Touch and Feel series, or anything with flaps). He has books that were some of my favourites when I was small (Dr. Seuss’ Amazing Alphabet). He has books that I cannot read to him without crying (On the Night You Were Born).
He has a wonderful collection. So many of the books were bought for him by people who love him and who love reading. I can’t wait to watch him discover more of them as he gets older.
And now, dear readers, it is your turn. Peruse his shelves, and tell me please, what books are not on his shelves but should be?