“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 

The chill of fall has finally taken hold. The daily temperature this week will only be in the 30’s. The sun is bright but not warm. The breeze is slight so the brown leaves at the ends of oak branches sway just a bit. Today will be a quiet day. I do have an errand, but I’m going to delay it until tomorrow. I have to go out then anyway.

When I was a kid, I didn’t love this time of year because playtime after school was cut short. It got dark early. We’d go inside and spend the rest of the afternoon watching TV. I remember watching The Mickey Mouse Club and Superman. My mother cooked supper.

My father wore a suit to work. His shirts were always white and starched. He made a Windsor knot in his ties. In the winter he wore a top coat and a fedora. On Saturdays he did his errands. He also did seasonal yard work. That meant mowing the lawn in the summer and raking leaves in the fall. He’d wear his sort of play clothes. I remember baggy pants and a maroon jacket he’d wear in the fall. He never wore a hat on Saturdays. He loved wearing his hush puppies from Thom McCan. They were brown suede.

Both my parents were readers. My mother loved mysteries, and my father loved books like those written by Alistair MacLean. They are the reasons I became a reader.

When I was in Ghana, my town was lucky enough to have a library. I also had a Peace Corps book locker and read every book, some of them a couple of times. I went to the library often. I read every one of their mysteries. Many were written by authors I did not know like Ngaio Marsh. Reading was the way I spend so much of my leisure time.

One Christmas my package from home had some neat stuff to do to while away the time. There was an origami book which mostly thwarted me. I was never good at origami. I always ended up with just wrinkled paper. I remember a paint by number. That was really fun and became a decoration in my living room. There was always book or two. I loved my packages.

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6 Comments on ““Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ”

  1. Beto Says:

    The Road

    I left with my world in a sack
    Made of paper and old horse’s hooves
    A few folded rags to put on my back
    And several raggedy books

    Their covers were worn into piffling
    I stroked with each opening crack
    To dream on the prose of Kipling
    And wisdom of Jack Kerouac

    I read of the things worth the knowing
    That love was a gamble at best
    And those that you love need the showing
    When your heart runs away in your breast

    How the road is always a few steps away
    And its call can be stronger than steel
    That settling down is a whirl in a fray
    No matter how happy you feel

    Now I look on the hearts that I’ve cherished
    In all different manners and ways
    And weep for the ones that are perished
    As I come to the end of my days

    The books that I treasured that trip in the rain
    With their covers worn softer than silk
    Are gone long ago but their words still remain
    In the heart that was born of their milk

    • katry Says:

      This poem is so filled with sadness born from nostalgia, from remembering those who have perished and from the coming end of days. I understand those feelings so clearly as I grow old.

      I love that your world includes “several raggedy books.” That “their covers are worn softer than silk.” I cherish books just as you do.


  2. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Like you I am a lover of books. Right now I am sitting in my home office, or home study looking at my built in wall bookshelves. Nearly all of them are full of my favorite books. During previous moves, I have sold some of my less favorite books to Half Price Books in Dallas. I usually buy more books from them than I sell to them. 🙂 I have another wall of empty bookshelves I can fill up in my den. Then my children will have to worry about them after I’m gone. 🙂 Many of my current book collection are digital books on my iPad or on my external hard drive. I love reading digital books because I can semi permanently bookmark sections, or highlight sections, or leave notes for reference later. Also, I can carry a few books when I travel.

    My father always went to work wearing suits and ties. His shirts were always white and were professionally laundered. He didn’t like starch in them. Of course he used a Windsor knot to tie his ties. Is there any other kind of knot for a necktie? He only wore a topcoat and a hat in the dead of winter or when on a trip to Kansas City or St. Louis in the wintertime. That was as far north as his sales territory extended. Thank goodness, where I work they went business casual several years ago. I think ties are the most useless of clothing appendages. I think a sport coat, open collar button down shirt and a pair of slacks looks just as good as a suit and a tie.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      When I was a kid, I had stacks of books in my bedroom. Now I have books everyone. I alternate between a real book and my iPad. I have a little library out front and leave books there. Also, I find books there I haven’t read yet.

      I love giving books as gifts. I gave my niece and nephew books as they were growing up, and now I give my grands, their kids, books. Also, I have already bought each of my sisters a new book for Christmas. They are such enduring gifts.

      My father also had his shirts professionally laundered at the Chinese laundry up town. Thee are also those thin ugly knots.

      For any graduation event when gowns were worn, the boys had to wear shirts with collars and ties. I used to bring ties with me as very year some kid didn’t wear one. I also ran off illustrations showing how to tie ties as many could not tie them. I’d also tie them.

      • Bob Says:

        When I moved back to NYC in 1961, the boys in junior high were required to wear ties, regardless of your type of shirt. The vice Principal had a collection of the longest and ugliest ties imaginable to give to boys who forgot their tie. It was stupid. In high school the administration couldn’t force the boys to wear ties.

      • katry Says:

        My high school, before I moved to the cape, was Catholic. Boys had to wear jackets and ties.Girls had uniforms. On the cape, girls didn’t wear pants and boys had to have shorts with collars.

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