On May 19, 1994, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passed away. The next morning her son made the statement, “My mother died in her own way and on her own terms surrounded by family and friends and the books that she loved.” I remember being struck by that statement. How much must the woman have loved her books that her son brought it up in a statement to the world about her death.
To be honest, it made me feel a little better about myself. If someone like Jackie Kennedy loved her books that much, maybe I’m not as odd as I thought!!
Just this morning a friend passed an email on to me that contained what can only be considered a love letter from Frederick Buechner to Books! Buechner waxed poetic about the beauty, the smell, the look, the feel of books. I felt my heart beat a little faster just reading his words.
When I was younger I devoured the Little House on the Prairie books. Well, probably to be more precise, I thought I actually was Laura Ingalls. But there was also The Secret Garden, and don’t forget Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, plus tons of other books.
When I was in 4th grade, every day after lunch the teacher would have us sit at our desks, lights turned off, and she would read to us. What a luxury! One day she started a book called New Boy in Town. It was set in New England which was the land of the pilgrims and centuries of traditions to a 9-year-old Southern girl. I was hooked.
When the teacher finished the book, I went to the school library and checked it out again and again. Many years later I found myself in my old elementary school, which was on the verge of closing its doors forever. I walked around the building lost in my memories. When we got to the library, I suddenly remembered the blue cover and the black lettering of my favorite book.
I don’t remember how I found it, but I do recall that as soon as my tour guide turned her attention elsewhere for a moment, that book quickly found its way into my coat where it stayed hidden until we made it home together safe and sound.
Neil Gaiman is a British author who said,
Stories you read when you’re
the right age never leave you.
You may forget who wrote them
or what the story was called.
Sometimes you’ll forget
precisely what happened,
but if a story touches you
it will stay with you,
Haunting the places in your mind
That you rarely ever visit.
Maybe I’ll use that quote as evidence in my trial for theft. Or maybe I could call it research for the next Encyclopedia Brown story -
The Case of the Missing Book.
Just out of curiosity - what book has made the biggest impact on you?