Last night I couldn’t sleep. So I did what most people do I in the darkest, loneliest hours of the night… downloaded free books on my iPad. Now, I always knew the selection of free books available to the public was extensive but I never realized how wonderfully accessible it all is. So, like a kid in a candy store, I downloaded works by Kate Chopin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Wolf and Joseph Conrad. Kipling and Kafka and Carroll. It was my childhood junk food response all over again
– consume until satiated.
I knew no moderation.
I’ve mentioned before that growing up in small town Alberta we had no REAL bookstores to speak of and then the one that did finally pop up had a collection of “young adult” fiction that extended the length of one shelf of one bookcase. Thank goodness this miniscule collection included Nancy Drew Mysteries and works by the goddess of young adult literature, Judy Blume.
What filled the huge, cavernous gaps between the acquisition of reading material was the fact my mother had a little collection of literature that she accumulated before she was married and kept it neatly shelved in the storage room beside the “big freezer”. Mom was smart, when she was a young woman it too was impossible for her to purchase books in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairie during the early 1960’s, so she became part of the “Reader’s Digest Book Club” . She was shipped classics like “Wuthering Heights”, and “Gone with the Wind” every month or so.
Mom was very free in letting me peruse her volumes, reading whatever caught my eye. Once in awhile I’d find a trashy paperback loaned to her by one of her friends (or so the name inside the front cover showed) and I’d secretly read it sitting atop of the freezer consuming all sorts of mild debauchery I couldn’t understand…as well as frozen cookies. I’d quickly replace it (and the baking) if I heard her footstep on the staircase.
And I still haven’t gotten over the fact the public library wouldn’t allow “farm kids” to get library cards. I’d LIVE for library time at school so that I could sign out books to my heart’s content (that would be two, two books. One fiction, one nonfiction). Needless to say I now abuse my public library privilege and download with a frenzy seen only at blue light specials at Kmart.
As a kid, if I would have known my future would include immediate accessibility to all sorts of stories I would have found the wait torturous and willed myself to fast forward in time. But alas, I would have had to appease my impatience with the world of H. G Wells… if finding a volume wasn’t as impossible as time travel.
I’ve always loved reading. The acquisition of a good story sitting at my fingertips is one simple thing that truly makes me happy. Maybe it’s because it was a struggle to simply find a book and doing so was like finding a treasure, a glittering gem in a pile of ash. Needless to say the fact that today a plethora of tales lies at my immediate disposal is like a dream come true and I find myself behaving like a little kid at Christmas surrounded by wrapped gifts…. so giddy and excited she starts unwrapped one gift, then notices another with glittering paper and starts unwrapping it just to drop it for another – often have three or four books on the go because I need to consume as many stories as I can for fear they will be taken away.