Books that Remember

Books that Remember

Books bring a common connection to uncommon situations. Here are two that have occurred in just the past 24 hours…

Standing on the damp, cool concrete while I am at our daughter’s Sunday school swim party at a neighborhood pool at 8pm Friday night and then 10am Saturday morning in a circle driveway at a garage sale in the city, there is one commonality – people who hear the word “book” and come to life.

First the garage sale driveway: the girls and I are walking among a group of tables piled high with all kinds of wares – Italian sculptures, a bag of marbles, a crocheted doll’s dress, a red kitchen mixer, poker chips, a deck of UNO cards, two NASCAR hot wheels, a frisbee, and a bowl of ceramic fruit. We comment on some of it, pick up this or that, then think for a moment, and put it back. But at the last table, there they are…stacks of books, many nice old ones with those beautifully gilded pages and hardcovers embossed with titles that resemble masterpiece works of art. This table is just for books and is clearly marked as such. I noticed a middle school favorite, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and said something about it to the kids. A young mom nearby heard the conversation and joined us in a great conversation about why this was her favorite book in the 7th grade. She is now 30 but remembers the book as though she read it last night! Amazing book talk right there in some stranger’s driveway.

Now for the pool party: a longtime friend of ours shared her family’s story of life in Lubbock, Texas and an unusually cold winter that hit the town in the early 1990’s. She clearly remembers the bitterly cold night that she came across a “Sweet Valley High” book set in Southern California and decided to grab a blanket and start reading. Four hours later she finished the last page of the book and realized that she had transported herself into the glorious summertime heat of a California fable. It worked its magic and 20 years later she tells that story and the details about the book as though she read it last night! Amazing book talk right there at a friend’s neighborhood pool party!

Books don’t just bring a good memory, they provide for its possibility and a common connection, just waiting to be made in the most uncommon situations.