Do I love reading because my father insisted that I get books from the library, or do I just love reading? In the beginning I resisted, "Do I have to?" Without fail, every two weeks Dad would drive me to the library. I would take the choice of books very seriously, read the flaps that described the book, and carefully consider my choices. We were only allowed seven books at a time so it was an important decision. Two weeks later they were finished and I was ready for more.
The library was beautiful, situated in a park across from LA High School, a kind of Mock Tutor English Mansion, dark woods, stained glass windows built in honor of the twenty Los Angeles High School graduates who perished in World War I.
That is the exact spot where I would forage for books.
I discovered these beautiful photos on a website, "Big Orange Landmarks" which is somewhat of a puzzlement. The photos are by Floyd B. Bariscale. He's described in the LA Times as the "Pseudonymous blogger Floyd B. Bariscale." Quite the mystery man, since he is also mentioned as a character on the Dick Van Dyke show. How weird is that? If you're interested in Early Los Angeles, he has photographed and documented it all. The website is a fascinating place to look and see, "the way we were."
The park with its benches and green grass was an oasis for reading and discovering adventures in far away places, worlds I knew nothing about.
My favorite books were, "The Secret Garden," "Little Women," in fact all of Louisa May Alcott's books. I'd read them over and over. The "Mr Poppers Penguins" series was always funny. Oh how I loved "A Little Princess." Not only did I read it as a child but listened to it as a Book on Tape during a long car drive up to Idaho. Remember Books on Tape? Loved the family in "Cheaper by the Dozen." So did some movie makers. "Heidi," I read, over and over again, loved the grandfather. No one told me what to read, I just read. I used to walk to school reading a book, had lunch reading a book, and ate dinner reading a book. Books were my favorite companion, so of course I would hear my mother say, "Enough reading. You need to be outside playing in the sunshine!" Maybe, she said that, because growing up in Russia, it was cold and grey, as opposed to sunny Los Angeles with orange trees all around us. Orange trees do not grow in shtetls.
I remember watching my father sitting at the kitchen table after dinner reading the dictionary. We would make fun of him for doing that, and using big words like 'mucilage' instead of glue. I deeply regret that I didn't appreciate his hunger for words and education. Books and education were not offered to him in Russia.
Now, the whole reason I'm bringing this up today, is that I just received the latest book by Kate Morton.
I've read all of her books, loved them, saved them and was planning on photographing all of them together for this posting. So, I went looking for her books on my bookshelves. Hmm? Not with the "I've read these." Not with the, "I'm going to read these."
Even checked the royalty group, not there.
You know what? I couldn't find them.
That's when I realized my system, if I had a system, which I don't have, was all messed up. So to be honest, I have no idea where on my shelves her books are. How to organize books? Some people organize by color which looks very cool but how in the world do you find a book by the color of its spine?
The artist in me would love this. But if I were trying to find a book, I would need an aspirin.
Organize by subject? Well, I do have two royalty shelves. Love royalty. Then I have my books on crafts, the art world, flowers, (lots of those), books on computer programs, Photoshop, Aperture I could go on and on. How about organize by author? Fiction? Non-fiction? It makes me weary even thinking about it.
It's enough that I alphabetize my herbs and spices. I’ve never admitted that to anyone. Seems a tad too obsessive, but it works.
From Amazon: A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own...
From Amazon: The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, it is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.
From Amazon: It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II.
Let yourself get lost in her books. Enjoy!