My love affair with books started when I was thirty-two. I did not realize I had severe dyslexia. This genetic brain challenge happens when the Right (creative) and left (logical) sides of my brain are balanced with only one highway out. If you asked me a question both sides of the brain wanted to answer. However, brain communication has only one road out. Any hope of answering a question got stuck since both sides were dominant. Words spelled were backward, exam time was terrifying since I would not be able to grab hold of the answer logically or creatively. I was left to just pour words out in any order hoping I would get a mark if the lecturer saw some answer in the glob of words I poured out.
I was blessed by taking History at University of Toronto part-time. A fellow student sat in front of me with a life changing sentence- “Did you know you are dyslexic?” Those words were familiar since I was teaching at a college for Directors of Human Resources when the Dean walked in. He later told me I had dyslexia. I was embarrassed and I said no. “I don’t think so.” The Dean then showed me the chalk board and my heart raced. So many ordinary words that I wrote were unrecognizable.
There was a whole wing at the university that diagnosed learning disabilities that I went to. The results indicated that I was severely dyslexic and it was left so long there was not much to be done except give me a quiet room, with spell check on a computer, I required time and one half giving my brain time to sort out which side would answer any exam question. My marks went from 47% to 83%. Oh, how my heart wanted to burst! I was not the moron that my father said I was.
I went to high school where my father was a math teacher. He taught and Grade Nine. I failed 5 of 6 subjects. The one I passed was physical education. My father begged the powers that be to pass me anyway, which they did.
After my diagnosis I realized that if I could watch someone put or build something, I could imitate. It was my eight-year-old son who could put a BBQ together while I followed his direction.
My sister hid away in books. One day when I was 32 years old my sister handed me a book – thick and heavy. She said “Here, read this book by Steven King.”
Although I never finished that book at that time, my love affair with reading began at that time and blossomed. Now 1000 books or more are on many bookshelves. I could comprehend what I read. One other important motivator was my eight-year-old son. A friend of mine who had such an enormous library in his house that he had to have additional supports added to the 2nd floor. It was one massive library. One day when he was visiting, he brought my son a book- a fantasy book. My son devoured it. A Fantasy book of “make believe” people and life struggles. He read it within a week.
When he was finished reading this book, he called me to his room. He was holding the fantasy book in his hand and stated, “Mom, I want you to read this book I just finished.” Without thinking I immediately answered “Oh sweetie, I am not into Fantasy books. He immediately replied, “Mom, I want you to read it so you will know what I am reading and then we could discuss it together!” With my heart melting in a puddle, I said “great- I will – it will be fun.” This started our life long exchange of Fantasy books and discussions that sometimes went on for hours.
My love affair with books deepened personally and of course with my son. To crawl into a thing called “a book” I disappeared into worlds with struggles like my own. I could get out of my low self-esteem and become a hero, a heroine, a person with the same outlook, same hopes and dreams. My son and I are still sharing Fantasy books – for a beloved rich world for over a 35-year journey together.
But “For The Love Of Books” I would not be the person I am today nor would my beloved son. Sharing books brings two people together in the most sacred way- sharing knowledge. I read how to parent, and realized the many “How to books” gave me skills that I never learned from my abusive parents. Back then I had a clarinet to love, pour my heart to – love while sitting on the warm radiator locked in my room looking at the street light and the hilly street to survive. I knew not of the Beatles or Elvis Presley, nor movies, eating out nor extended family.
Now I had a family – a never ending family – of wars, bravery, hurt, happiness, “How To Make Friends and Influence People” – Dale Carnegie. I learned etiquette through an enormous book by Miss Manner’s. I was no longer alone nor lonely.
Books, like lovers, crawl into bed with me, I get to hold onto realizing the world has a history I knew nothing about. Books on Hitler who also believe it or not loved books reading about heroic stories of Wagner and loved musical stories- yet it never changed him into a better person.
Books are secret lovers that you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner with. Crawling into bed making room for Hard Cover Books- sturdy as another person, one can trust when coming home, your lover awaits. No need for make-up or curlers. We shared laughter, confusion, sadness crying together as if one’s family member who has died. For my books were the only family I had besides my friends. Being terrorized, traumatized and all alone with parents who stopped at nothing – broken bones – shaved hair not leaving enough to use a bobby pin. My only real girlfriend, threw herself on her bed crying so hard I was fearful at how destitute she sounded. “What is wrong” I asked. Finally, an answer. She was madly in love with “Elvis”. I was never allowed any form of anything – just my clarinet and the only heater was old radiator. “Who, I asked, was Elvis?” “I love him so much.” I had not a clue who this was and tried to comfort her as best I could. My continued question of “Who” pertained also to the Beatles and all performers, as I was not allowed TV.
Now I had books- I learned who these unknowns were- yes in my 30’s.
My beloved books taught me how to go from being a child crying “Help me, help me” – to “How can I help you”. I grew up with my beloved books.
Books filled with wonderful stories like great wine, each page is a sip of safety, knowledge, laughter and “How to survive in the world of confusing pickled friends, lying dates, how to know who is a good friend. Writer “Kubler-Ross” taught the world between two book ends, the life saving teacher – “On Death and Dying”. It was a time when one diagnosed with cancer lost all their friends, family and hair. Kubler-Ross taught us to treat them as normal and all the five stages of dying. Imagine – a book with covers soft and gentle that held and saved us all by teaching us how to stay your same loving person while they changed facing death. All in a small soft cover book!
Kubler-Ross taught us the living in her books how to live by an exercise that asked “If you had only 6 months left to live -1. What would you be doing? 2. Money is no problem and your heath is fine 3. Who would you want to be doing it with? 4. Where would you go? Then you have 2 years left to live – 1. Money no object 2. Health is fine 3. Who would you be spending time with? 4. Where would you go? Finally- you have 20 years left to live. 1. What would you be doing? 2. Who would you be doing it with? 3. Where would you go?
All in a soft cover book. A life quality plan – how to live so when you really are on your death bed – all of your “thank you’s”, “I love-you’s”, “I lived a quality life” and know all my “I’m sorry’s” we’re taken care of right away.
Books unconditionally love, books always love how you look and feel as you do with books. To be accepted, do the right thing in the right way – how blessed we would be – filled with unconditional love for yourself.
A lover that never leaves you, no bitter arguments, one you can hold tight to you like a partner, a child or favourite teddy bear. The weight can be heavy – it is filled with so many people who struggle as we do in real life. Books never leave us, each character becomes a new friend to understand, care for and accept its faults.
Books live in any century at all. Books teach us how to be the best of us and in turn, books help us forgive ourselves and each other. A divorce? A good heavy book like “War and Peace” will help one sleep before hitting the fifth page. A lover is always there whenever we need them. Always willing to spread open wide the covers and let us be as intimate as we need and want. Books never leave us, never die despite the characters that do. It loves us because we become every character, good, the bad, and the ugly on each page. We can become changelings putting on a different personality as easily as we slide into the clothes we want to wear.
“For The Love Of Books”… I had to wait till I was 32 years of age. A chance to become who I was meant to be and to be the best mom I could be. My dear son and I have a special bond that helped us both learn through Fantasy books how to read each other, how to love each other, how to get through the difficulties every son and mother go through – For the love of books my son and I have a deeper soul connection. I had horrifying parents but through my trust and love of books I saved myself, I saved my son and did not complete the few times I tried to kill myself. To be brought up in a house of hate not for my brother and sister but for me. I learned through my love of books that the beatings, the sexual abuse matched those brave souls who survived war. The writing of books helped them as did reading them. I learned that I survived because of this through my love passion for books. Books were my real parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brother, sister and anyone else I needed to parent me, love me, let me know it was not my fault but my birth parents’ fault for not wanting to be kinder, better, more loving parents than they had.
Books save lives through tiny letters put together so we all feel safe, kinder, more knowledgeable, and most of all through the love of books I was never alone again.