One of the joys of being home for most of this summer has been the world of reading-for-fun that I have been able to be a part of. Maybe that is one of the joys of being out of school in general, but I hesitate to say that because so much of the assigned reading at New St. Andrews was the sort of thing I thoroughly enjoyed and probably would have been interested in reading on my own (excepting things like Euclid's Elements, and Athenaze, and Brunelleschi's Dome). But I digress.
Two weeks ago I took some of the girls to town, returning library books and selecting 25 more to bring home. Yes, twenty-five. Novels and biographies and poetry. Today Maria and I returned about half of those, and grabbed a few more to replace them. It's one of the tragedies of living in (or merely near) such a small town that the library contains far fewer titles than it should for a family of this size where everyone has an appetite for reading.
I love seeing people with a love for books. I love it in anyone, whether it's the kids I babysit asking repeatedly for "another story," or my dad finally reading some of the stacks on his bookshelves, or just someone waiting at the tire shop who pulls a novel out of their bag instead of picking up the nearest celebrity magazine. But it is the most wonderful to see my little siblings reading hungrily. Becki reading The Hobbit to Abel and Seth. Naomi laughing out loud while reading Pippi Longstocking or Ramona, just as I used to. Laura telling us things we've never heard about Johnny Cash and Julia Child and Eleanor Roosevelt. Maria and Becki reading Harry Potter for the first time, as junior and senior college students. Silas finishing Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will, and discussing it with Dad. Lydia and Abbi shrieking about their stories about ninjas or witches' spells, and taking turns reading Lois Walfrid Johnson. Jonathan's histories and wars. Emili and Elsi's historical fiction. The horse stories, the Sugar Creek Gang, the Mandie books and the cooking books.
The books can get a little tyrannical at times, which is evidenced by their interruptions to 'life.' The longer it takes for us all to get to bed at night because we all have a chapter to finish, the kids that whip a book out from the couch cushion as soon as we pause the movie, the stories that make the reader late for breakfast and then pull them back out of the kitchen before the dishes are even washed. It is a tyranny that ruled me once when I could zip through a paperback chapter book like Sadie Rose in less than a day, that grips me even now with the Count of Monte Cristo or the tale of a murder in Cyprus, or of Alyosha Karamazov and his nice little family. It is the tyranny like your favorite dog begging for a pat, of the conversation with a friend you see every day, of the sunshine that pumps happiness into your whole body. It is the tyranny of love.