Here is something about me: I LOVE reading and collecting books. Yes, there is difference between the two. Some books you buy belong on the shelf and never to be opened, or perhaps used as a night stand. Other books grab your interest; you read them and might recommend them. A third category is a mix of the first two. Books lose your interest after a few pages and then go on the shelf. Finally, some books might make it straight to the bin!
“Sigh” There is nothing like walking around a bookstore or library and looking at titles and book covers. But that’s just me.
I have a self-pity friend. Probably you have one, two or a dozen of them. You would like to help them help themselves but they never listen and always leave you drained. (The two topics are related. I promise). My friend, a divorcee, has never worked a single day of her life. She constantly complains of boredom and emptiness. So, on numerous times I suggested reading for her. She indicated that she liked the idea but never did anything about it.
She called me up one evening and after 10 minutes of giving me all the latest gossip on people I don’t know or care about she told me she was at the bookstore. Out of the hundred of choices, she picked up the book on scandals and Facebook. I felt aggravated that she was wasting valid time in the bookstore on a meaningless conversation with me. But on the bright side, at least she got to look a book.
A few days later, it occurred to me that I had taken the ability to enjoy hunting and reading book for granted. Growing up, I remember our long family trips to the bookstore. During my early teens my father tried to tempt me to read grown-up books by inviting me to borrow a book from his “grown-up” library. At that time I found his books to be BORING and his attempt humiliating but today I am thankful for it My mother never refused to spend money on a book I had chosen, even when it was son Elvis being back from the dead.
Today, I can find my way in almost any bookstore or library and when it comes to history and literature I know a thing or two. I can even pick a readable book or two within minutes.
My friend, however, did not have that kind of experience. Her father is an avid reader but he never shared his books. As usual, child rearing was left to the mother, who didn’t care much for reading and so she never encouraged her children to read. Other than school requirements and the Holy Quran, my friend does not recall buying or reading a book in her life. Today, she is raising a child who will grow up not caring much for reading either…
Now, I tend to think that my friend’s phone call might have come from a moment of desperation. She had made an attempt and found herself a stranger in a foreign land. She simply did not know how to walk around in a bookstore and I simply took for granted the privilege of growing up in the bookstore.