I talk a lot about books on this blog because I have been reading and loving books since I was a tiny girl. That love did not grow in a vacuum, however. One of the biggest reasons I love to read is because of my mother. Since today is her birthday, it seemed appropriate to share a bit about how Mother shared what a reading life could look like.
When she was in elementary school, her grandfather bought her beautiful books about nature that she read to my children when they were young. I have her set of Grimm’s and Andersen’s fairy tales, picture books, and several other titles. Although her family did not have a lot of extra money, books were important to her. She treasured each title and shared them with me once I was old enough to care for them. Her father’s sister loved to read and gave Mother many books over the years as well.
Mother instilled the importance of reading into my brother’s and my lives, too. My earliest memories include reading and books in our home, some belonging to us, and many borrowed from the library. Mother used to joke that I had been going to the library since before I was born since she regularly borrowed books from the local library while expecting me.
When I was in fourth grade, we moved to a new house and she gave me a bookcase that her grandfather had made for my books. I had numerous books at this point, and Mother made sure that I was able to collect more to read by spending allowance money for the latest Nancy Drew or receiving books as gifts. I could always count on at least one book every Christmas from my mother and usually one for my birthday as well. Even as an adult, I looked forward to my “Christmas book” that Mother would choose for me.
As I grew up, Mother and I often read the same books, and she introduced me to books she had loved as a teen, such as Anne of Green Gables, the Girl of the Limberlost, and Mrs. Mike. In high school, we read popular authors like Leon Uris together and she wholeheartedly supported my project of reading classic novels that I borrowed from the library, starting in the A’s with Jane Austen. She lent me her copy of Gone with the Wind and shared her love of Thomas Costain and Anya Seton.
After I grew up and moved out, books were still a subject of many of our conversations. Mother would ask what I was reading, share her recent finds, and we would promise to try something new that the other loved. We also shared when a book didn’t work for us. Since we enjoyed the same sorts of books, usually if one of us didn’t like it, the other probably wouldn’t either. After her death, my father gave me many of Mother’s books, including her collection of autographed Rosamund Pilcher books, one of our favorite English authors.
Having a mother who always had a book going was probably the key to my lifelong devotion to reading. I am thankful to my mother, who led by example and taught me that an afternoon spent with a book is never wasted.