I have bought a lot of books this summer. I always do, but I may have broken a personal best this summer. And I say best, because I buy these books without guilt (and yes, I do get the irony that I used to work at a library). I buy them mostly at my independent store, Wordsworth, but I’ll be honest and say that this summer many have come from Chapters and second hand shops. I build up piles everywhere and no one complains. They tease but never complain.
My Nana and I were talking about this the other day and she reminded me that I have always done this. I would pile stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club or Sweet Valley around my bed. And I know I did this, I haven’t stopped. All my life I have stacked books in piles around me, like a fortress, while reading them.
When I was small, I grew up a block away from my Nana and Boppa and I lived with my Mother and my younger sister. My mother always had severe mental health issues and it was hard. I can’t imagine not having my grandparents down the street to help, they did so much more than that. I should write a post one day about the ways they were always there for me, it would be my longest post ever.
My piles of books, then and now, aren’t meant to keep anyone away or even provide me with a safe space. I didn’t need that, then or now. Yet my caregiver role started early with my mom, when I was really young. As a mom now I know that’s never ideal. My grandparents around the corner did far more than their best. But those fortresses of stories (and those familiar, brilliant authors from Louisa May Alcott and Judy Blume when I was young to Ann Patchett and Meg Woltizer now) give me a place to retreat and rest before stepping back to my people who need me. Reading is where I go to readjust my armor.