I have always been an avid reader, inhaling words like gulps of air after diving way, way down in the public pool. Reading comes as naturally as the breath, unconscious and ubiquitous.
I read the way some people eat food: fast and desperately to quell a hunger, or quality books that I savor. And often late at night.
I collect books on my shelves as if I were displaying trophies. Each book holds a feeling, an emotion, a state of mind. Many of my books are flagged with yellows or blues to allow easy access to my favorite passages–you know, the words that evoke memories from a life you can’t quite recall.
I like to pair my reading with an environment. Childhood stories are either read aloud to young ears or consumed silently in the quiet, dim corners of books stores while my mouth forms the words through a smile. Favorite fiction must be read in pajamas by the light of a single lamp (or preferably a flashlight). The nonfiction to expand the reach of my thoughts is pursued only while seated at my desk for serious contemplation and reflection.
My beloved fairytale section span academic studies to classic originals and back around to retellings. I can hardly dive into one without wanting to dip a toe into all of them. Cautiously, I pair my collection only with the onset of a weekend with no obligations. I end the journey exhausted from my adventures across countries and realities. My dreams on Sunday night are of princesses and dragons and triumphs.
In March, I made a sacrifice that only an avid reader can understand. My boyfriend moved in with all of six books. I can share the bathroom, I can clear out half the closet and the dresser, I can make room in the pantry, and I can live with his lacrosse sticks in the living room. But, oh, to make room on my bookcase?
The shelves are already jammed with volumes. The second shelf sags with the weight of my hardcovers, lined up like teeth on a comb. The order has been perfected over the years by subject, no by author, no by color, and finally by soul. The untidy bottom shelf is one-half children’s books which have no unified shape, one-half textbooks that I’m sure I will want to reference again someday, and one-hundred percent vital to my health and happiness.
I keep my to-read pile on the nightstand, already a dozen deep and threatening to topple. My fairytale stack, heavy with importance, is housed on a floating shelf by my desk. My modest collection of cookbooks is in the kitchen, weathering oil splatters and tomato paste. I am a firm believer in the fact that a room without a book is like a body without a soul. Even the bathroom has a basket of short stories and a joke book.
While I deliberated, his six books lay forlornly on the dresser. Out of place. Jarring. Homeless.
It took a few days and a bit of rearranging, but I performed an act of true love.
“I made space for your books on this shelf,” I said after I kissed him good morning, trying to hide my pride.
And with that, everything fell into place.
The Harry Potter series belongs on the dining room table, right?