PaperBackSwap Blog

Musings, Memories and Miscellany from our MoM’s

Today our Featured Member of the Month is: Jade K. (Jade4142).  Jade was named Member of the Month in October, 2010.

In 1959, my brother Randy went to school, and I envied him! There, to that brick building strode my brother, to gather and, I knew even then, discard vast amounts of knowledge while I sat home having sugar water tea parties with my dolls! I was green!

He announced at dinner some few weeks later that he was learning to read. I seethed. He scorned his baby sister and his younger brother, for we were not learning to read.

Said younger brother, Brad, moseyed off to find out how fast a tissue would burn, when stuck into the gas flame of our mother’s stove.

I said to Randy, quietly, “Then teach me.”

He eyed his baby sister speculatively. He felt quite indignant that there were uneducated people in his house and it was that small boy’s way to simply fix what was broken.

“It’s hard,” he told me solemnly. “It’s a lot of work to learn to read. And you have to do it the right way, in order.”

I simply nodded. It was far too important to me, to argue or even take the chance that he might not teach me.

I wanted to learn to read. I saw my parents read. I saw my older brothers read. There were things in books that made them smile and sometimes made my mother cry, and sometimes, when it was in the newspapers, it made my mother and father argue. I wanted to know what it was.

Randy took the challenge. At the lofty age of 5, a boy who actually attended school for half a day, he undertook to share some magic skill with me that would make the gibberish in the newspaper and in books, make sense.

I learned to read when I was 3, and I remember even now that moment when the gibberish on the page became words. The world became in that moment, and I became. I became a child who could read. And I found the magic in books, and I laughed, and I cried, and sometimes I discussed what I’d read with others, who argued with me.

My mother’s mother, who had long been a school teacher, heard the news with joy! And she began a lifetime of buying me books. She sent them to me, brought them to me, and had them sent to me. She told me about a place that simply overwhelmed my young mind; the library!

I was a child with a world of treasures. Then I was a teenager with a library that was the envy of every friend who enjoyed reading.

And then I was an adult. And my mother passed on and left me her home. While I emptied it of those things that I did not wish to keep of hers, I put most of my things in storage and got my own house ready to sell.

In May of 2007, my brother Brad, who had never developed any interest in reading, went with me to my storage space to start moving me into Mom’s house. I opened the storage room door and smelled what every book lover instantly recognizes as the stink of mildewing books.

Half an hour later, I, a small woman with a visceral scorn for violence, said to my brother, “If you say that one more time, I promise you, I will beat you to death with that sofa.”

What he had been saying for half an hour was, “They’re just books. Calm down.”

I was not calm, and I would not become calm. Every book but the last Gram had bought for me, two months before she died in 2000, had been in that storage space. Every movie, every audio book, and every printed book I owned but for that one book, was destroyed by a leaking storage space. I was unhinged. I was enraged. I was sunk in black grief. I flung moldy boxes toward the front of the storage space, saying words that only my brothers have ever heard me say. I tore soggy boxes open and dug through stinking black books, hoping that just one had survived the water.

None did.

In 2008, having just purchased a replacement book on a site, I went to their wanted posts and discovered one that said, “If you want free books, go right now to PaperBackSwap.com. You can get free books there.”

I was intrigued. I knew what I was spending on books. I went to the site and registered. I read in the Help Center and clicked on things to see what would happen. When I felt pretty comfortable with the site, I listed some books and requested some books. That was in March of 2008.

Now, in March of 2011, there are no books on my wish list, and my Excel document, created in 2007, titled, Books To Be Replaced, is blank. More than 700 of the books I lost in 2007 were replaced right here on PBS. Gram had bought me hardcovers, and they’d all had dust jackets. Many had been first editions. I replaced them with hardcovers that had dust jackets and were first editions. Right here on PBS.

But the fact that all my books have been replaced doesn’t mean I’m done with PBS. A dear PBS member sent me a link to a site that lists authors of murder mysteries, one of my passions, and their main characters, plots and books published. I am once again a woman on a mission! And PBS will see me through that one, too. I’m choosing one book written by each new author (new to me, anyway) and I will read that single book by each author. If I love what I read, I’ll order the rest, and of course, some will go on my wish list.

The love affair of the century began in March of 2008. PBS and me!


If you have any nominations for Member of the Month, submit them to us here.  Your nomination will not “expire”–anyone you nominate will have a chance at getting Member of the Month if enough nominations accumulate over time. Each month the person who has the most votes accumulated when the Newsletter goes to press gets to be Member of the Month and gets a newsletter mention and a nifty MoM icon to wear on profile and forum posts with pride.  So go for it! Tell us who’s helped you in the Forums, who’s been a great swapper, who in your opinion is a credit to PBS.  We are keeping a list of all the nominated members.  Who knows–one of them might be YOU!

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply