What is it about books?


They have a special magic with me. I can’t explain it. I just love them. I have ever since I was young. I remember my parents buying me a book when I was about 5, which would have been 1968. I believe it really was for my mother because it was not a kid’s book. I think it was either a history or current events book. They made me feel it was mine. We bought it at Kroch & Brentano’s in River Oaks Mall in Calumet City, Ill.

I even remember reading John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage” in the third grade at Kolling Elementary School. All the way through Kolling, then Kahler Middle School and Lake Central High School, I was the kid who always had a book with him at school. Not a text book or required text, but a book I was reading for pleasure. My fellow students thought I was strange.

Studying at Indiana University and Purdue University Calumet slowed my pleasure reading down a bit, but I was in heaven because of the books I needed. The vast amounts of classroom reading occupied a lot of my time. It was fortunate a lot of it was interesting. College nurtured my passion for books and reading.

I even love movies about books. One of my all-time favorite movies is “84 Charing Cross Road.” It stars Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. Lisa and I watched it again last night. He’s a bookseller in London; she’s a struggling writer in New York with an appetite for English books. Lisa loves it, too; I probably love it more because of the books. We both love “You Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan because it’s a romantic comedy centered life with books.

Today I was excited because I found a book sale at the Waller Library in Old Town Alexandria. Lisa was getting a manicure and pedicure. She left me alone at the used book section of a resale shop on King Street. I happily left with three books along with the floral coffee press Lisa found. The three books cost $3. One was “The Knitting Circle” by Ann Hood. That one was for Lisa. She loves to knit and loves to read…a perfect combination. For me, I picked out a book on writing (“Telling Writing” by Ken Macrorie) and a literature anthology (“Fiction’s Many Worlds” by Charles E. May).

I was making my way along Columbus Avenue to the salon she was getting her “mani/pedi” when I passed the Waller Library. The sign reading “book sale” beckoned me. Library book sales are like catnip to me. They offer books for a cheap price. I eventually picked out three books, all Norton’s literature anthologies: “The Norton Reader, Seventh Edition Shorter,” “The Norton Reader, Shorter Ninth Edition” and “The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Shorter Fifth Edition.” I was looking for books to help stoke my writing muse. You can’t beat getting three books for a dollar each. Then horror…the $5 bill I thought I had was not in my wallet. Silly me, I used it to buy my Taco Bell lunch yesterday. I put the books back on the cart. Had to find an ATM and fast before someone else jumped my claim!

Fifteen minutes later, I was back. Fortunately, the books were still there. I took time to browse and found two more book. One was for Lisa. It was “The Source” by James Michener, whom she loves to read. I also found a historical fiction book called “Q” by Luther Blissett. It’s set in Europe during the Reformation.

At the salon, Lisa knew I was in heaven when I showed her the books. The big smile on my face said it all. She enjoyed watching my excitement as I showed her each volume.

Books have always had a special attraction to me. Some men love football. Some men love beer. Some men love both. I love books.