There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So many books, so little time.....

I have over 500 books...over 500 because I stopped counting at 500. I didn't count the books under the bedroom dressers that are stacked 2 deep and the full length, didn't count the ones on the coffee and end tables, the shelves in the upstairs living room, didn't count the ones in sun room, the entry, the laundry room, or the three in the kitchen. I think my books are secretly rabbits....they multiply while I could happen couldn't it?

I love books........I love buying books, reading books, touching books, smelling books....books. With the exception of the buying part, all of the other components of book love have been there since I was old enough to read and go to the Library. My name is Rosemary and I am a book addict.

I worked in a Library and my supervisor told me that my book buying habits would eventually fade away . They didn't. I not only want to read books, I want to own them, never get rid of them, not lend my favorites, stack them over and over again each time in a different way, relocate them from room to room, alphabetize them, dust them...just possess these books in every way that I can.

When I was a kid, we had a one room Library in our "bedroom" town of Alhambra. It was safe to walk anywhere then....I did; to and from school, to and from the Library, to the market to buy cigarettes for my mom with a note, to the park...anywhere. My favorite destination was the Library and my favorite spot was on the floor in back of the Librarian's desk hidden by a short bookcase. I would sit there for hours reading......Little Women was my favorite and I probably read it dozens of times. I would walk around the Library just touching the books and trying to read titles. Every once in a while Mrs. Booth the Librarian would say to me, "Rosemary that is a grown up book section. Please sit down." I didn't know grown up from kids books. Yes, there was a children's section, but I had read all of those books and wanted to see what was on the rest of the Library shelves. Little Women was actually a "grown up" book, but it was shelved in a place where I could very slowly take it down and then sit in my spot and read. I always had a "cover" book in case Mrs. Booth ventured away from her desk which was almost never. She was a large woman and it probably took great effort just to breathe!

Eventually Alhambra left the bedroom and moved to the real world and a new Library was built. Very efficient this new Library; segregated sections, tall shelves with books out of reach for little hands, places to sit, write, study and all of this done with absolute silence. Mrs. Booth was no longer in control but several new women ran the place with an iron fist. That was Ok for a while because of all the new children's books that were added to the collection. But eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I tried to discover the grown up books once again. My mother was called, I was scolded but all this did was make me wonder just what was in those volumes and volumes of books.

By the time I was in high school, I was a reading fool. I had the dream of becoming a physician, but not the aptitude, dedication or drive....and then there were the boys. I did take all of the english, history and literature classes I could but reading fiction was so much more fun than homework. I actually had Lady Chatterley's Lover stuck in my American History book and was reading away when the instructor asked me a question....I was busted and big time; parent conference, I was wasting my brain, grounded, all of my Library books returned and my Hollywood Confidential mags were found and taken away as well. Did not change my appetite for reading.

As a young mother I went through Napoleon, Henry the VIII, European History, and California Indian reading phases. But my heart always belonged to fiction. The Library was my "other man" gave me the escape I needed from several bad marriages and relationships after divorces. My children had the same love of books that I did and so we were a happy little group, sitting and reading the days away. I allowed the kids to roam the Library and touch, see and wonder about all of those volumes that were not yet discovered by their little hands and minds.

I can remember reading Belva Plain, Pearl Buck, Victoria Holt, Marilyn Harris, Herman Wouk, John Jakes, Earl Gardner, Jane Austin, John Steinbeck, Bronte, Du Maurier...and any other fiction author I could find. I was never a romantic novel know, the kind with a ripped bodice and a well-hung-good-looking-long-haired man on the cover.....but I did love the epics that went on for several volumes and even years after the last one was read, another generation would emerge in yet another volume.

Somewhere along my novel covered road, I started buying books...paperbacks at first and then I became a purist; I only bought hardbacks. I joined three book buying mail order clubs....of course the main dealer for my book fixes was Doubleday. I probably built several floors of their building with my purchases. I still have Winds of War that I bought from good old Doubleday....the cover is torn and faded and it's format is the minature size and print that Doubleday used.

I have actually sold some of the books I have bought at my yard sales, but I have reluctantly done that. I have also donated some to my local Library....but with each book I sold or donated I felt like I was losing a friend. Now, I just box the books up that I have read and put them in a special place in the garages.

I have a notebook that I was going to use to record all of the books I have...but what fun is that? I would rather look at my books, touch them, smell them and think all of the wonderful experiences I will have living vicariously through their characters. So, to all of the wonderful fiction writers I have enjoyed over the years.....write on, write on, write on!

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