So many books …

January 31st, 2010 § 8 comments § permalink

I made three New Year resolutions for 2010.

The first was to maintain the weight loss I had accomplished last year. Losing weight and getting fit were my only resolutions for 2009 and I managed to shed a quarter of my body weight and have my doctor tell me “whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!” (Hooray) But now I have to take New Year resolutions seriously. (Boo)

My second resolution was to make a real effort to keep in touch with friends, old and new, real and virtual. For the latter, of course, I have to keep this blog current. (Hooray)  But here I am, last day of January, making my first post of the year. (Boo)

My third resolution will very probably be the death of me. I was drunk daft enough to resolve in front of witnesses that I will not buy one single book until I have cleared my shelves, tables, desks and floor of all the books waiting to be read. At last count, there were 231 books in that category. (Hooray) Since January 1, I have managed to read only nine of them, which means I can’t buy any more books until the end of 2011. (BIG FAT BOO)

For me, not buying books is like an alcoholic taking the Pledge or a crack addict becoming a nun. My friendly online bookstore, (cough) Indigo (cough), which has just declared its first ever operating profit, might even go bankrupt, while the Canadian consumer spending index will dive.

Family legend has it that I have been reading since before I could speak. The story goes that my father came home from work one day and found me, a mute three year old to that point, sitting on the floor in the middle of the Irish Times. Why I was mute is a story for another time. Suffice to say that, when he enquired of my mother what I was doing with his newspaper, both parents were dumbfounded to hear me reply “I’m reading it.” I’d love to be able to say I remember the occasion, but I cannot tell a lie: I don’t. However, I do remember, at an even earlier age, sitting on my Dad’s lap every evening while he read Kipling’s Mowgli stories to me and my older brother and sister. He moved his finger along the words as he read, presumably for my benefit, which is probably how I learned to read. (It may also be the reason I fell in love with my first serious boyfriend when he took me to see Disney’s Jungle Book. Big mistake, but that, too, is a story for another time!)

In defiance of the accepted wisdom that reading to your kids every night will turn them into readers, none of my siblings developed an interest in reading and there were very few children’s books in our house. But we lived next door to a family of book lovers, who gave me free run of their house and the books they had outgrown and stored in their attic. Every day, after school, I would let myself into their house, empty while they were all out at work, and settle down in the attic until somebody arrived home, or I was called to supper by my mother. This routine continued until I was about nine, and had the added benefit of keeping me out of reach of my older sister, AKA The She-Devil. At that time, the man of the house, who had been in a long term care hospital for years, died and the family decided to sell up and move away. But before they left, they presented me with the contents of the attic, including the book cases to hold them.

As you can imagine, I was in seventh heaven. But this turn of events did put me back within reach of The She-Devil. Despite the fact that she was actually a very stupid girl, she never seemed to have any problem coming up with fiendish ways to torment me and, this time around, she found a beaut. We had a black lead range in our kitchen, which my mother kept fired up all day, every day. My sister would sit and watch me reading by the heat of the range and, just before I reached the end of a book, she would grab it from me and hurl it into the coals, using the poker to make sure it caught alight. To this day, I have to make a real effort not to read the last pages of a book first.

I’m partway through Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning. I think I will try to finish it this evening, so that I can say I have made inroads on ten books so far this year. But I will be back. After all, there is that second New Year resolution to keep.

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