By Mirah W. (mwelday)
If there was ever a book nerd in this world, it would be me. And I’m totally fine with the label of book nerd. In fact, I’m quite proud of it. Maybe I should think about getting it on a t-shirt or a personalized license plate. Although, it’s probably pretty obvious. I don’t like to carry a purse unless it’s big enough to hold a book. I’ll read anywhere: the line at the post office, waiting rooms, while on the treadmill or waiting in the car for my husband to get done inside auto parts or home improvement stores.
I developed a book ‘problem’ at a young age. When my schools would have book fairs I would get so excited. They would give out these little newspaper-like brochures to advertise the books available during the book fair and I would scour the list for hours. I would try to maximize my purchase power and get as many good deals as possible. It was fabulous.
These days, PaperBackSwap.com is like my book fair. I’ve lived in some places with not-so-hot public libraries and no bookstores and PBS and my fellow swappers have been lifesavers for me! (I’ll just add this side note: thank you to all of the swappers who were willing to go through the extra step of completing a customs form to send me books while we were stationed overseas. You saved me!) Since books are almost as important as the air I breathe, I thought I would highlight a few of my most memorable reading experiences and favorite authors for Book Lover’s Day (Week).
I don’t know how old I was when my family went to North Carolina for a family event but I remember reading My Brother Sam is Dead during the drive. I can still feel the paperback and see myself in the backseat with my book. I cried and cried while reading it. I think it’s the first time I realized books could create such an emotional response for me.
During my senior year in high school my English teacher made us choose our own books to read for a book report. What did I choose? The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. My teacher was skeptical. It was at least three times longer than most books other students were picking. I mean, it was high school for crying out loud, it wasn’t cool to read books. I read it, I loved it and from then on I swore longer books were better books. I love a long book…getting to know the characters, investing the time, not wanting to part ways with fictional ‘friends’. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some doosies that are long and I don’t want to invest my time in them. I’m sorry Homer, you can go on your own Odyssey, I’ve got other things to read.
And then there’s Lonesome Dove. I tell you, Larry McMurtry was on to a good thing with that one. Sorry if this is all sappy but I think Lonesome Dove changed my life. I felt like a different person when I finished it. After reading it I felt like I’d been let out of some bubble I had been living in. I saw the world as a vast place with different people and different ways of life and I was fascinated. I’ve read it numerous times and every time I cry at the same parts. I know what’s going to happen but I get so involved it’s like it’s a new experience for me each time. Now, that’s a good book, people.
Geez, I could go on and on with this so I’ll just touch on one more author. Where would I be without Jane Austen? Jane’s my girl. I feel like if she was living today I’d totally be her stalker. She was ahead of her time and is an inspiration for me. You know the question people ask at interviews that goes something like: If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be? Jane would be sitting at my dinner table. I’d even butter her bread for her. Her books are just as relevant today as they were when she wrote them and I can’t get enough. She should probably be a topic of her own blog post because if I really get started on Jane this thing will be a dissertation.
For me, books are an escape. They’ve been an outlet for me for many years and I can’t wait to see what books I will read in the years to come. Whether I am walking through Bath with Anne Elliot, watching the battles of the Revolutionary War, feeling the heat of the Australian outback or going on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana there is always an adventure to be found. And I’m all about a good adventure.