Stacks of books lay on the edges of the coffee table around the X-box controllers and remotes. I’m sitting on my legs in front of the bookcase pulling books off the shelves, adding to the piles. My kids want to know what I’m doing. The last time I did something like this I gave away all their Donut Man videos and they’ve never forgiven me. They get nervous when they see me making piles.
Sarah Bessey’s lists inspire me last week. I spend an hour among the air-conditioned shelves of used paperbacks in a day of stifling heat. Walk out with a stack of five for the price of one and wonder why I haven’t been to this store in four years. I’m going back.
“I’m taking these to the used bookstore to get credit for more books, but I want you both to look through the ones I’m pulling out before I take them,” I assure their discontent.
Murielle thinks it’s ironic that I’m getting rid of books just when we’re re-arranging our family room, adding more bookshelves. I remind her about boxes of books in the attic we don’t have room for on the already full shelves. “Oh,” she remembers, “that makes sense.”
She’s reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for a school reading assignment, while Harrison turns the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird to complete his. And my heart beats faster knowing they hold the classics in their hands now. I know the way a well-written phrase can open a whole new landscape of perspective, transform rooms of tired thinking.
My first introduction to the classics came in a well-worn hardback of Jane Eyre I found at the small library in the town where we lived while H attended seminary. I lay that book on my lap during a road trip as newlyweds. The car remaining mostly silent as I give myself over to story.
That book gives me an appetite for words that lead me to the other Bronte sister and then Jane Austen. The special edition of Anne of Green Gables with a cover that looks like a piece of art I receive for my birthday that year, it’s my favorite gift. Smitten by the power of words.
And perhaps reading fulfills that part of me that hungers to know the attributes of God expressed in a way that makes me think beyond the grocery lists and doctor visits.
I haul the cardboard crate of books into the store lined with rows of well read paperbacks. The lady behind the counter with the messy ponytail and smudged eyeliner takes stacks in one hand while navigating the calculator with the other. “We don’t take self-help books,” she looks up at me. “They don’t sell very well.”
And I wonder why. Are Christian inspirational books irrelevant or do people keep them like found treasure re-visited? Maybe it’s because showing someone how to live through the power of story is more transformative than telling someone how to do it in five easy steps.
Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction. ~Proverbs 18:20
“You have twenty-seven dollars of credit,” she says with a smile. “Do you want to spend it now?”
“I’ll be back,” I tell her. “I forgot my Sarah Bessey list lying on my desk.”
I pick up the box of “self-help” books, push the glass door open with my back and wonder if I can fill this box again from the shelves in the bedrooms.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for summer reading, I’ve updated my What I Read page, just click on the tab at the top of the page. And will you share what you’re reading this summer here in the comments? Perhaps a classic that you go back and re-read regularly?
If you haven’t already done so, will you like my Facebook page on the sidebar too?
I’m joining Michelle today for Graceful Summer, embracing the quiet, carefree summer days.