For years I’ve dreamed of having too many books, of reading all the stories on my rickety little bookcase with it’s wobbly particle board frame and bowed shelves. And when I finished reading all of those fantastic adventures I’d go out and find new ones until there was no more room on my teetery shelves. Someday when I was all grown up with a house and a dog and a little money saved up, I’d turn to the love of my life and say “honey, we’re gonna need a bigger shelf.” There are so many places to see and characters to meet, living their lives beneath the glossy covers of all those books.
But when COVID hit and I was stuck at home for three months, I hardly touched any of them. I regret to say that during those three months of solo apartment living with little to look forward to but the monotony of virtual meetings and conference calls from the home office, I relapsed into a screen addiction that I’d all but beaten down.
The magic of the written word can take you to wonderful, far away places but remains locked behind the cover of a good book, unleashed only when you crack it open and allow its spine to sing for joy of the tale it’s about to tell. I allowed myself to be lured away from that healing magic by the easy, mindless entertainment of Netflix and Facebook and Youtube, all cutting through the lingering silence of my lonely home. I forgot all the friends that huddled together collecting dust on my tired bookshelves.
Recently, I picked up The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal and absently skimmed a few pages while waiting for my dinner to finish cooking one evening. I ended up reclined on my sofa with my feet up and the book propped open in my lap, completely enthralled as it introduced me to Edith Magnusson and her fabulous pies. The sweet musky scent of the novel’s pages engulfed me, filling my nostrils and calling me home again.
I feel like I’ve woken up for the first time in months, no longer trapped by the cold pale light of my computer screen. It is the nature of a book lover’s reading list to never be truly complete. I’ll spend weeks plowing through one story only to buy three more when it’s done. The catalog of novels and self help books on my to do list will never be finished but I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life striving toward that end.
What stories do you daydream of returning to? Share in the comments.