My house is pretty much an privately funded, private library. Meaning that I buy all the books, and they’re ours. Sure, I share with friends, sometimes, but I’ve bought them all for the family as a whole, mostly, and we share with each other. Now we’re having to split the library, and it’s been an awakening.
My son is getting married and asked me to go through the stacks of books he has hoarded in his bedroom (wonder where he gets that?) so we can figure out which ones he can take, which I want to keep, and which are ready for new home. Some I knew were definitely his – the Michio Kako book I got him for his birthday a couple of years ago, the Star Trek book he picked up at the Smithsonian. But then we ran into old books that he just didn’t want to leave behind – the Hardy Boys, the DK Eyewitness books (remember those? ) picture books like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Pigsty. (I kept the first one, but relented on the second.) I was surprised by how many books he still loved, how many he remembered reading for the first time, and kind of happy to see which ones were books I had loved as a child too. We even had a few that belonged to my dad as a young man that my son packed away for his new home.
In the end, I was left with fewer books, but also with a great reminder of the many happy hours spent reading with him, with his siblings, watching them read to themselves. And that makes me remember my mom, and the many, many trips to the library we took, once a week, while I was growing up. Books are magic, I really believe that with all my heart, but the magic isn’t just in the book itself. The magic is in the power of a book to create a space where imagination can grow.