Lose a library, find inspiration

I can’t find my Kobo.

It’s not the end of the world – the dozens of books I’ve got stored on it are also stored on my computer. But it is irritating. I can’t haul around an entire library in my bag, as the marketers tout these things, which is something I’ve become used to.

It occurs to me that I’ve actually misplaced an entire library.  Doing this even ten years ago would have been quite a feat – full bookcases are pretty difficult to misplace.

At one point I had a few thousand books. They took up an awful lot of space. When I decided to move out of the country – a lot of them went to used book stores. Some went into storage. But many of them – old paperbacks, books I didn’t think were particularly valuable or irreplaceable – I put by the curb on a dry night hoping they’d be picked up by someone who loved books. They were gone by the morning as I knew they would be.

I have an image imprinted on my memory of those piles of books on the curb looking abandoned and unloved. Conjuring it still gives me a pang in my stomach – what was I thinking?

That never would have happened with my Kobo. I could have kept those books I’d collected for years safely in one place – with a back-up for good measure.

I missed  another book I somehow lost.

When I was younger an aunt of mine gave me a novel called Helen in the Editor’s Chair by Ruthe S. Wheeler, originally published in 1932. It was about a girl whose father, who owned and ran the local newspaper, got sick and had to travel to a dryer climate for a while to get better. So Helen and her brother took over the paper while he was gone.

I loved Helen – she was strong willed, talented, persistent and efficient. Took over that newspaper, kept it running and even managed a scoop or two.  It was one of the books that inspired me to be a writer.

“Its heroine, Helen Blair,” the description on the flyleaf says “is typical of the strong, self-reliant girl of today.” This was in 1932 remember – and even when I read it decades later Helen’s sense of adventure and strength of character resonated with me. These days, the book seems such a lovely throwback.

I recently went to Amazon to search for a replacement. I wanted the object, not just the memory.

Here’s the volume I found and ordered on Amazon … original edition from 1932.

When it arrived I rifled through the pages, bringing the volume to my nose – it’s the same edition with the same cloth cover, same Art Deco-style font, same yellowed pages and old paper smell. Reading it, holding it, is such a sensual experience – and all of my senses including touch and smell helped reinforce the memory I held of that book. This small volume has a past and a permanence.

Just picking it up brings me back to those days when, as a kid, I read about Helen sitting in her editor’s chair and was inspired.



One comment

  1. […] writing this blog entry in October I’ve found my Kobo – and a renewed appreciation for my wall of […]

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