Pining For My Books

January 14, 2014

I love to read. I have always loved to read. I used to climb up into our backyard tree or hide in a fort I had constructed with sheets and settle in with a good book. Sometimes I would ride my bike to the park at the end of our street in Detroit and sit inside a group of old shrubs that had grown wild and formed a secret tunnel-like space just for me (or so I thought). There I would read my favorites – Caddie WoodlawnNancy Drew, Little Women, Henry Huggins, and the Little House on the Prairie series.

I have only spotty memories of my early childhood, but I clearly remember our neighborhood library and I can picture the exact shelf I would run to every week and choose a different Madeline book.

When I started Kindergarten I found a copy of The King’s Stilts by Dr. Suess in the school library and it became my constant companion. When I left Emerson Elementary in the second grade, our neighbor, Mrs. Dixon, a teacher at the school, gave me the yellowed cloth copy to keep. I had that book forever until it got lost when I moved to NYC.

When my children were young I got to revisit these treasures all over again, and experience wonderful new ones along with them. Some of my most precious memories are those spent curled up with my kids (and usually a dog or two) reading a good story.

I think that if I could choose just one solitary activity that gives me the greatest pleasure, it would be lying in a hammock with a good book (usually fiction).

If that hammock is beside a lake or the ocean, well that’s just icing on the cake.

Lately though, I’ve noticed that the books are piling up while I’m reading less and less. I blame the Internet, or rather my inability to stay off it long enough to get through a big meaty novel. I spend more time at my computer than I know is healthy, and it seems like the time just evaporates and those pleasure-filled hours spent reading become few and far between. Pining For My Books!

For a while I switched to reading on an e-book device (sounds so cold), but in the end, went back to the real thing. I love the feel of the pages, I like to flip back and forth, underline, circle, comment. I know you can do this on an e-book, but it’s just not the same.

And nothing beats the library or a bookstore. Heaven on earth. I have to limit my time in them these days, until I do some catching up on the piles in my own apartment.

I’ve ventured into the world of audio, listening to stories or lectures while walking in the city, riding the train, or sitting by the river. I don’t remember much storytelling going on in our house when I was growing up, and I’m loving experiencing books in a new way. On a recent trip, I downloaded Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed and was mesmerized.

Of course I have shelves and shelves of books on spirituality and holistic health. I could probably open an Ayurveda library. 🙂 And my art books are precious friends that I look to for inspiration. But nothing gives me that reader’s rush like a good piece of fiction.

Around Christmastime I bought myself a book called The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo. It’s a gem of a book with a page or two of insight and inspiration dedicated to each day of the year. The book was published fourteen years ago and I have seen it on the bookstore shelf many times. For some reason, this time, it leaped out at me, begging to be taken home. Wayne Muller, founder and president of Bread for the Journey and author of How, Then, Shall We Live? has this to say:

“Mark Nepo is an astonishing poet and teacher. He generously comforts us while guiding us toward the deep, quiet river of wisdom that saturates each and every day of our lives.”

While I might not be reading stacks of novels these days, I have started this new year by reading each daily entry in The Book of Awakening with my morning tea. Each day these little poetic gems of wisdom get me thinking, inspire me and ignite my own creativity. I want to share one with you here. This one is from the entry on January 8th.

Feeding Your Heart

“No matter how dark,
the hand always knows
the way to the mouth.”
– Idoma Proverb (Nigeria)

Do you love to read? What book has inspired you lately?

“Even when we can’t see, we know how to feed ourselves. Even when the way isn’t clear, the heart still pumps. Even when afraid, the air of everything enters and leaves the lungs. Even when clouds grow thick, the sun still pours its light earthward.

This African proverb reminds us that things are never quite as bad as they seem inside the problem. We have inner reflexes that keep us alive, deep impulses of being and aliveness that work beneath the hardships we are struggling with.

We must remember: the hand cannot eliminate the darkness, only find its way to the mouth. Likewise, our belief in life cannot eliminate our suffering, only find its way to feed our heart.”  – Mark Nepo

Much love,

  1. Oh, Barbara, thank you for this. Books were my first friends, and are still some of my best ones. I used to climb the backyard maple tree with a book in hand regularly and sit up there lost in reading for hours. The library would only let me take home 6 at a time which usually only lasted 2 or 3 days, and I was impatient for the following week’s trip so I could get more. Do you remember “The Trouble With Jenny’s Ear” (she could hear people’s thoughts, a child energy worker!) or “David and the Feenix” or the Madeline L’Engle books (Wind In The Door) or … Man, my childhood would have been a lot more empty without these steady companions. Thanks for the memories!

    • Nancy, We book lovers share a special heart connection. I can feel your love of books just by reading your words. 🙂 I do not recall any of the books you mentioned but now I’m curious, so I’m going to check them out! Every once in a while when I’m too distracted to read, I’ll pick up a children’s book and read it instead! xoxo

  2. And here is a fellow book lover! I too spent endless hours deep in the magic of fictional worlds growing up. No trees or backyards in the middle of Manhattan, but the feeling is the same. I always wanted an attic to retreat to like Jo in Little Women. And Barbara, yes, everything you said about the books that don’t get read these days and just pile up in my house. And now my latest conundrum: Do I spend my precious subway reading time and waiting time at places trying to guess people’s characterology or read my book?? : ) I loved this column!

    • Thanks, Naomi! I loved Little Women, as well as all of the movies. I just watched it over the holidays. I love movies as much as I love books! I would spend your precious subway time reading – maybe you can glance up every now and then… 🙂

      • Loved this post, Barbara! As you know, I share your love of reading and don’t do it nearly as often as I should. I also blame technology! We need to get back to our pages 😉

        Love, Rach

        On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 9:55 PM, Barbara Sinclair Holistic Health and Healing wrote:

        > Barbara Sinclair Holistic Health and Healing posted: “I love to read. > I have always loved to read. I used to climb up into our backyard tree or > hide in a fort I had constructed with sheets and settle in with a good > book. Sometimes I would ride my bike to the park at the end of our street > in Detroit and sit i”

  3. Hi Barbara – Not only did I love your post, I also loved the photo of your bookshelf filled with your wonderful books and photos! I am reading a good one now, I will let you know the title when we talk next! xoxo Mary

  4. Beautiful Barbara… As an avid reader/book collector I love books and reading as well. Every New Year I start by saying IAM not buying another book … LOL! I possibles! Totally addicted!

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