Thursday, February 13, 2014


If there has been one consistent thing in my life it is that I usually have a book in my hand, or in my tote bag or on the car seat, or on the coffee table.  I have carried them into my doctor's office, into the dentist's waiting room, and to the laundromat.  I don't want to be caught somewhere without a book; having 10 minutes to kill without having a book handy is torture.  I have always been this way.

My mother considered herself extremely lucky to have given birth to two back-to-back bookworms.  My younger sis and I both were readers from an early age -- we learned how to read in first grade (which in those bygone days it was thought that first grade was plenty early to be taught how to read) -- and she set the pattern for our own reading by always having a book in her hand and by taking us to the library to check out books when we were just little tots.  We couldn't read yet, but she read all those books to us.

There were a couple periods in my life when I didn't read: when I was at college, and when I was working full time and researching my family history in my spare hours.  Of course I was reading at those times, but just not novels and currently published books.  I read plenty when I was in college, but from textbooks, and in my years of research they were all genealogy-oriented books.

Being retired these past few years (fourteen years, as a matter of fact) has provided me with a generous amount of time to read, and I can't express to you how pleasurable it has been.  My only complaint is that in the interest of not using up my retirement income to buy books I want to read, I must depend on the local library to supply what I crave - books, books and more books.

Why life is tough for me, the bookworm, is that the little Riverside County Library System, upon which I am dependent for my books, and my needs are just not in sync.  There are 37 small libraries that provide for the reading needs of county customers.  Each individual library has a fairly limited amount of shelf-space for books, and an even more limited budget for new books.  The person who is not particular doesn't have much trouble finding something to read, but my gosh, for us bookworms it presents an awful problem.  We must put our wants on a reserve list, wait for the book to be found at a distant library, and then hope it makes its way to us timely.

Reality is that one of two conditions usually exist:  To insure that we have SOMETHING we want to read in our hands, we must put several on reserve.  But there is no way to know if they will all come at once, or not come at all, both fates worth than death.  The optimum condition would be to have them dribble out at a nice, steady pace, but that just doesn't happen.  When none come in, I am relegated to reading the backs of the Wheaties and Cheerios boxes.  When a bunch come in at once, like now, I must put aside my life and expect Jerry to run the household while I devour book after book.

Right now three are sitting on my desk: the 500 page "Five Days at Memorial" by Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink (about the Hospital disaster in New Orleans due to Katrina),  "The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics behind Nazi lines" by Cate Lineberry, and "The Fiddler on Pantico Run; An African warrior, His White Descendants, a Search for Family" by L.A. Times reporter Joe Mozingo.  All are new books, none renewable beyond the two week check-out period, and I absolutely refuse to turn even one back into the library before I have read it, since I've waiting so long for my name to come to the top of the "Reserve" list.

So Fink's book is presently lodged like a permanent appendage in my hand.  My doctor has seen it, the dentist saw it yesterday, my kids have seen it, the neighbors have seen it, and I have turned into a reading fool.  I'm on the homestretch now, but life is tough for me, the bookworm, because I have to sleep and eat and make dinner and do the laundry, all of which take away from my reading time. That is a pain in the neck, because I DO understand life must go on!

Nevertheless, I bring this on myself because reading is my choice.  It always has been and always will.  Who do I expect to understand this?  All other readers, including my son Sean, and at last count four grandchildren that I know of.  And Jerry knows too, not because he is such a reader but because he just knows me so well and makes allowances for me.  For that, I am exceedingly grateful.


Olga said...

I am with you as a reader. My mother used to tell me to put down the books and go outside to play. Mike was an even bigger reader, mostly history and other nonfiction.

Jerry Manriquez said...

Bobbie, I received a Kindle for a present last year. I am reading a book every day or two, from the library of course. I have library cards from Riverside County, Corona, Carlsbad, Placentia and the City of Los Angeles. I basically only use the LA eBooks since they have about 30,000 available. I had to get one at a branch library in LA but it is sure worth it. Just download it from home.