College…who needs it?

I didn’t go to college really, but I did go to Bookman’s Used Books when I moved to Tucson, and a love affair began.  A love affair and an education.  After living in the storage unit (which allowed me to save up some money) I decide that I would wait on working until I found the PERFECT job.  So I stalked Bookman’s.  With no computer (come on people!  I hadn’t even had a toilet for MONTHS!) I had to write out a resume.  I think I added a flowered border around the colored paper.  Without a past address to put down, I borrowed a friend’s and, with trepidation, I decided that I needed a phone in the house we had rented here.  It felt like I was signing a deal with the devil the first time I called the phone company—one step closer to being mainstream.  Such HORROR!

Once I started working there (they must have loved my pluck!) I began to read.  I read like binge eater at Furr’s cafeteria.  I bathed in books, read while driving, read while eating, read while walking, and without a television (we hadn’t crossed over THAT far) I read almost every moment I was at home.  I probably read 4–5 books a week at that point.  I read so much and so fast that I would dream in the rhythm of the dialogue.  I could read you under the table with my hands tied.  (I nursed my children, so I am very adept at turning the pages with my tongue, or nose.) I would have made out with them if I could have.  I suppose I could have . . . but, really, that would have felt sort of odd.  A friend once accused me of “escaping” through books and never allowing myself to be present in the moment.  To that, at the time, I thought, “fuck you!”

It drove me nutso that Thor didn’t read books.  We shared a love for music but not genres and we had the same verve for life but, as far as any other compatibility we literally grew apart.  When I was single, in between Thor and John, I wrote a list of qualities that I was looking for in a man.  If I was a better blogger, I would find the list for you and scan it, but I’m not.  I can tell you that “must read books” was at the top of the list with “must own a car” right on its heels.  Also,  “has no desire to go to strip clubs and won’t or wouldn’t have a bachelor party including naked women.”  What can I say?  I know what I want.

It is hard to articulate why I love books as I do.  I know that many people enjoy book clubs and discussions but I despise the thought.  It pleases me to no end to know that there are people in the world that read books, so I don’t have anything against books clubs, but for me, a book is such a personal thing.  Its effects, lessons, insight, humor—its energy (if you will) is completely mine.  The thought of trying to share something so personal with a group of people makes me itch.  I feel the same way watching people Karaoke.

Eventually I was allowed into the frat house of the Book Department at Bookman’s.  When I say frat house I totally mean it.  I had to transfer stores just to get into it!  It was the most elitist, most hardcore work aspect that I had ever experienced.  What getting into that department meant for me was that I could be on the buying counter.  All day long, people brought in books (and CDs, tapes, DVDs, etc . . . but who gives a shit?)—boxes and boxes of books.  And I could choose whether or not to buy them for the store.  The perk?  Anytime a book came over the counter that I liked, I bought it for the store, stuck it under the counter and bought it for myself later. Huzzah!  Any time I moved apartments over the next few years, I toted about 15 boxes of books with me.

I have fallen in love with my husband a million times since we met (and we met at Bookman’s:  Ka-ching!).  I keep falling in love with him—for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that he isn’t an annoying prick—but one of the first times was when I saw him open a book, stick his nose in it, take a deep breath, shut the book, and smile.  He had no idea I was watching him and that made it all the better.  My relationship with books pales in comparison to the one that my husband has with literature.  Next to him I am a book pauper.  Just 3 hours ago, as he was dropping my car at the shop, he called me while he waited for 10 minutes until the shuttle could bring him back.  He was mortified that he had forgotten to bring a book.  How COULD he!  This is a man that rarely leaves the house without one nonfiction and one fiction.  As he was being taken out on a stretcher  to the ambulance this weekend (back attack), his bag (“you can call it my man purse if you want”), with two books inside, was safely tucked between his legs.

Now we have children.  Children with parents who read while parenting—we read our books in the little moments that the boys are occupied with mischief.  And we read to them too, of course.  I rarely say no when they ask me to read to them, and I don’t think that in four years I have left a bookstore without a new book for the kids.  Through nature AND nurture, we have designed children who share this love of books with us.  Rowan is at an age where he carries books to the car with him and reads on the toilet (who doesn’t?). Last night, past the boys’ bedtime, we had to say no to Rowan’s request for one more book. As he climbed up into his bunk bed, he sighed and said, “Well, the thing is . . . I just love reading books!”

Well said, Sir.



Filed under Before Children., Children., Confessions.

4 responses to “College…who needs it?

  1. Kira

    Ah, finally someone else who has read while driving. It can’t be that much more dangerous than texting, right? One day six years ago I attended a class, walked home through the city, and then drove to Portland – all while reading Atlas Shrugged. It’s surprising I’m still alive, really. In more ways than one – that book was epic. And smelling books is the best. Good post! Obviously I share your love for books. I didn’t have a TV for my entire childhood because my parents were hippies (and English majors). So my brother and I are huge dorks too now. We may be a little socially inept, but we can read freaking anything.

    Sometime you should come up to Oregon so you can go to Powell’s, if you haven’t been already. I mean after visiting all of us of course. It’s HUGE! And the different genres are organized by color. The Rose Room has the children’s section, sports books, and science and math stuff. Red has travel, psychology, and metaphysics. Blue is fiction. Purple – sociology, politics, cultural studies. Going into the different rooms now gives me flashbacks to times where I was obsessed with certain genres. Instead of doing my homework at home, I went to Powell’s and did it there because it smelled like books and it was comforting. And the Borders in Eugene has been my escape place for the last several years, as unfortunately there is no Powell’s here.

    Anyway. I loved your post! It makes me want to blog about books. And it is interesting how people will get a completely different experience out of the same book. I like that.

  2. i have also read while driving and in college and grad school would often walk while reading. if i could read a page in between locations that saved me time for more reading later;-p

    but, i’m a big fan of book clubs. i like to find out what other people “saw.” kinda like reading the comments to blog posts;-p

  3. Charlotte Norine

    I really like your blog Sarah! I have to try to figure out how to bookmark it, my favorite button is not working.

  4. Teena

    Your love of books and the fact that you observed your husband taking olfactory pleasure from a book reminded me of something. A scent made by one of my favorite perfumers “CB I Hate Perfume” called “In the Library”. He has a very eclectic collection of fragrances that are not your traditional scents including this one. Read the story behind the fragrance. I think you’ll understand why.

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