Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Salon: Reflections on another decade

My birthday was Tuesday. It was a big one. 40. A new decade. Obviously my life is a lot different than it was 40 years ago. But aside from the obvious things (really, what baby has wrinkles and grey hair?), there's an awful lot about me that hasn't changed significantly. By the time I was three years old, I was a reader. I never destroyed books like so many of the other little troglodytes in preschool. Crayons never came near my books. I didn't tear them. I was the only kid in elementary school to consistently practice the proper way to hold and carry a book, not because it was taught but because it was intuitive. Maybe I was a librarian in a former lifetime?

I mourned when the very first book I learned to read went missing. My mom still claims that she didn't sell it or throw it out and I still don't believe her. When I was in high school, I paid a local bookstore to search for another copy of the book for me since it was long out of print. I spent my hard earned babysitting money to find The B Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain. I didn't like babysitting and I really didn't like kids so it took me a long time to afford to pay for the search (this was before the advent of the internet and how easy it all is now). But books were that important to me even then. Of course, if I had had a bit of patience, I could have waited until my own children were little (see how I've changed?--now I only don't like other people's children--mine are generally okay) and we joined the Berenstain Bears Monthly Book Club or some such thing and snagged the copy that came for them one month (it's back in print again).

When I called home from college to say that I'd declared my major, no one had to ask what it was; dad just wanted to know what on earth I planned to do with an English degree post-schooling. He probably would have been unimpressed if I admitted I just wanted to read a lot and had no idea what I would really do with it. Actually, I suspect he knew but he also knew that I was a reader and always would be and to argue otherwise would just make all of us unhappy.

Every stage of my life has been defined by books. I can look at many of the books on my shelves and tell you how old I was when I bought them. You can track the evolution of my reading taste, from the love struck pre-teen to the literature major to the almost anything goes of my current life, scattered and crazy as it is. I still pull books off the shelf from other ages and stages of my life and quickly, easily, I slip back into the person I was when that book first intrigued me. It's much easier to find my younger self in books than it is in the mirror these days. And I have to say that oftentimes I find I'm not really that far removed from the girl I was, at least as long as I'm between the pages of some captivating read.

No matter what else changes in my life, books have been such a fundamental part of me forever that I think I must have a Dewey decimal number birthmark somewhere as yet undiscovered. It would only be fitting. Maybe I'll find it by the time I hit the next decade. In the meantime, share some book cake with me?


  1. Belated happy birthday, and wishing you another great year of books!

  2. Hope your birthday was wonderful, Kristen. Happy belated birthday!

  3. Kristen....Happy Birthday Wishes. I so enjoyed reading this post and am happy I've gained more insight about you (and still like you) LOL

    Glad you like your own kids, even though you did not babysit when you were young....(me neither....I never babysat like other teen girls, and the first diaper I ever changed was my daughters...seriously.

  4. Happy Birthday! I agree that for readers like us, books mark specific stages in life. I've always loved that. Here's to many mroe years of reading.

  5. Happy Birthday! I also experience no one's surprise at my major declaration. Which I postponed until the end of junior year (when the school started sending me threatening letters and my freshman advisor - an anthropology professor - was getting quite exasperated with me.) When I did declare my major, my Dad asked if they taught us how to say "Do you want fries with that?"

  6. I'm a bit ( a lot) behind with my blog reading, and I missed this til now. Great to see that you did the dive course. Must have been fantastic. Congratulations on spending it in style. And so glad that you take time to do the blog.


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