How to Have a Great Summer

When I was 12 years old I created my own library. I called it, Samson Public Library, and I operated it right out of my own bedroom. Diligently I taped card catalogue forms into the backs of every children’s book in our house. Then I arranged all the books on my shelves by authors’ last names. And lastly I waited for my family members to come “check out books” from my library. I waited… And I waited…
My two children think this is the saddest, funniest thing they’ve ever heard. “Did your brother and sisters actually check out books from you?” Ace asks with a tone that reveals he no longer thinks his mom was ever cool. Nope, I smile. Not one book. Iris is gentler, “Oh poor Mommy. I feel sad for you.”
She pats my shoulder like you would to a drooling old woman in the nursing home. “But you have to admit, Mommy. It was a little weird to make your own library.” And then my two children let loose their giggles at my expense.
They aren’t wrong, either. It was weird of me. But things that make you weird as a child are usually still true of you deep down as an adult. We just forget. Or we get better at hiding these parts of ourselves.
I still love books. I love owning them, holding them. I love re-reading books and running my hands over the pages or binding as I contemplate the characters and plot. I love and miss libraries. I hope our libraries open up again soon.
A few weeks ago I ran into an acquaintance. To my delight she immediately asked me, “What are you
reading these days?” It’s a great question that I feel like people don’t ask enough anymore.
“I just finished a fun novel, so I don’t know what to do with myself.”
She nodded. “Same. When I finish a book I’m lost all over again.”
I thought about that as I drove home that night. How the dog-earned page of a book is like a compass—reading an engaging book keeps you straight. If you’ve got a good book then you have an evening. Or a great weekend. Or a perfect bubble bath. A smooth flight. Better than a glass of wine after a long day. Slip into my cool sheets and pick up with the story where I left off. How being in the middle of a riveting book is one of the best things this side of heaven.
My neighbor friend, Mary told me that one time, when she was single, she was supposed to meet a guy for date but she never showed because she couldn’t put her book down. “I figured there’d be other dates. But I had to keep reading. I was at the best part.” I love that story. And sadly, I feel like some of us have lost that romance with books.
In 2021 it appears that our self-awareness has turned on itself. We scroll through our social media news feed, hoping for a post that will ignite the same endorphins we used to get from books—a well-crafted
story that is both particular and universal, lifting us from reality while also validating it. But social media can’t give us that. Social media is not literature. You can’t be lost in a book and take a selfie at the same
time. More than ever we need authors. Not “influencers” but authors.
This summer I will do better because I haven’t forgotten that a good book feeds the soul. I’m heading over to Half Price Books, and I’m not leaving till I’ve got a stack. Classics, poetry, cookbooks and best of all, novels I’ve been meaning to read for years.
The months of biting our nails over Covid numbers, distance learning woes and vicious elections are thankfully a little bit in retrograde. Warm summer days are head. Don’t miss the opportunity to reignite that romance with literature again. Your inner child-librarian will thank you.