Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Salon: Triggering reading memories

One of the very first gifts I remember being given was a leather bound copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. My dad gave it to me when I was quite small (I'd already shown a marked love of books by then) and I still have it, bound in bright read leather and stamped with gold. I loved everything about the book, from the look to the content to the feel of it in my hands. It still looks like it did the day it was given to me, not because I have never opened it, but because even at a young age, I was gentle and careful (and particular if you listen to my family) about my books.

I do have a paperback copy of Alice (and the companion novel Through the Looking Glass) that I have no earthly recollection of acquiring but I suspect that I got it at one time or another to read the book for school, wanting to make sure that nothing could possibly sully the red leather copy. This latter copy is the one I have tucked into the bookshelves that house my childrens' library (and most of the books on it are my contributions or suggestions although they know that I never say no when they ask to buy a book). But I don't think that any of them have a book that means as much to me as my copy of Alice does to me, coming as it did (at least as far as my memory can be trusted, from my dad after his return from a long business trip).

The story itself doesn't qualify as my all-time favorite but the physical book itself vies closely for the title. Others in the running for my favorite copy are a copy of the first book I learned to read--The B Book by Stan and Jan Bearenstain, the first chapter book I got in school--The Witch's Button by Ruth Chew, and the first book I recall buying with my own money from the Scholastic Book flier--Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Funny how we form these different attachments to the content and to the physical copy, isnt't it? Any books in particular that you love? Why?

This past week I have been doing some wonderful reading. I traveled into the minds of a rare book thief and the rare books dealer who was obsessed with catching him. I jumped back in time to Ireland about a year before the Great Famine and observed as a modern woman and her nephew both try to adjust to their new time period, their new social statuses, and to cherish the loves they find in a century not their own. I visited Vietnam, finding beauty and corruption as two damaged Americans work to open a center for Vietnamese street children while trying to become whole again themselves. And now I'm ready to dive back into even more reading as I feel like I am finally working through the slump that has had me in its clutches for so many weeks now. Where have the pages of a book taken you lately?

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