When I was a kid, a lot of things were forbidden in our house. Many books were off limits, so much so, that my Mom decided one day to go through the house and get rid of the books we weren’t allowed to read anymore. Then just getting ridding of them wasn’t enough. My Mom had us bring all the books, which turned out to be a considerable amount, out to the back yard and pile them high. She then lit a match and set them on fire. We had to stay there and watch them burn. I wanted to cry watching all those books go up in smoke, but I knew my Mom would consider it a betrayal, so I kept my tears to myself until later.
A few years ago, the movie “The Book Thief” came out. I didn’t really know what it was about other than the obvious implications of the title, but the previews looked good, so my friend and I went to see it. As soon as the book burning scene came up on the screen, I could feel the tears coming. All the memories and emotions of my burning books from all those years ago resurfaced. I had talked about those crazy times to friends and therapists over the years as I tried to explain the world I grew up in, but none of those times really brought back the raw emotions as seeing it happen on a big screen. I wish I had been as brave as Liesel to take a book and hide it in my room. I had always joked about the whole experience as I got older, but sitting there in that movie theater, I realized how much it had affected me. I loved books as a kid, but never really wanted to own any again after that. When we finally moved to the house down the street from the library, I spent a lot of time reading in the library the books that I was afraid to check out and bring home. Thank goodness for libraries. When I moved back to the US, I went through a reading slump despite the fact that I was now allowed to read what I wanted. I think a lot of it had to do with my eyesight getting worse, unbeknownst to me, but there was also the fact that there was a lot of changes to get used to in the move. It took me years to get used to being allowed to read, listen to music, and watch anything above a G rating. I had to make friends, learn to be a big sister, get used to public school, learn a new city, get to know my Dad again, and so many other things to occupy my time. Books took a back burner for awhile. I finally made my way back to reading during my senior year in high school. My step mother moved us out of San Francisco and across the bay to Mill Valley that year. Mill Valley is a small town and in the heart of it was this little cozy bookstore called, The Depot Bookstore & Cafe. We had gone in there one evening after dinner and I was once again hooked on books. I made every excuse I could to go down there just to look at the books and then there was that moment when I realized I was a big girl with her own money and I could actually buy my own books. My library slowly grew and grew. I was reading again and it felt wonderful. Unfortunately, I have had to sell most of my books over the years to make money whenever times got tough. I hated doing it, but you gotta do what you gotta do to survive right!?! Then there was a long period of time there where I have had to rely solely on the library and bookstore gift cards to get my reading materials in order to stay on budget. In the last few years, I have started buying books and building a library again and it feels good.