Updated: Nov 13, 2021
I try to be grateful all the time, but with Thanksgiving coming around, I'm thinking about it more than I usually do. When I started to think of things to be thankful for, the thing that first came to mind was books and reading; not surprising from someone who named her blog Nerd and a Half, I know.
When you stop and really think about it, a bookcase full of books is a fantastic thing. A row of books containing the wonder and excitement of hundreds of viewpoints. Stepping into other countries or worlds, other times, new realities to teach us. I've had uncountable hours of fun, re-visiting Barton Cottage or Avonlea or Bag End to visit characters that feel like old friends. Or picking up a new book. The snuggling down with a cup of coffee and going off on a new book adventure.
I don't really remember life before reading, but I remember how excited I was in kindergarten when we began to learn to read. My parents had been reading to me, so I already knew that books were magic. I was so excited in class that I could barely keep still, which was unusual for a quiet kid like me. I was actually on the edge of my seat, leaning forward.
Sometimes I'm reminded of how many people in the past weren't allowed or able to learn how to read. It's something that I take for granted more than I should. It was denied to so many people. I know that people in different times and places had other ways of story-telling, like the oral tradition and music, but I think that reading is the best. We are lucky to live in an age of literacy, and in a time when so many stories are available to us, in so many forms and forums.
Part of the magic of books is that they freeze a story in place. You can revisit it, even though it won't be exactly the same, since you'll bring a mindset that has changed since you were last there. So even if you're indulging in the comfort of re-reading an old favorite, you can still learn something. Some sub-plot that didn't strike you as being very important will speak to you this time, or a side character who you never liked is more sympathetic. And even the unsympathetic characters can teach us what people who aren't like us have been thinking and feeling.
Besides hundreds of facts, many of which I didn't retain, it has conveyed thousands of ideas about how life is lived by other people, in other times and places, and about all the ways that I and my life are like those others', even if they are fictional people.
I am grateful for everyone who ever read me a story, especially my parents, who were always taking me to the library. And I'm grateful for libraries, bookstores, bookcases, tasseled book marks, reading journals, old books, and new stories.