Safe Between the Pages

Enter the awkward, painful preteen years. I fell out of a tree, and killed three butterflies, and got separated from the bosom of Mother Nature. I found sanctuary in the written word. A love for reading, nurtured and encouraged by my hyper-literate parents, became an unquenchable thirst for great books. I entered the make-believe worlds of Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Richard Adams, and Noel Streatfield.

I surrendered myself completely to being a gawky book nerd. I was nearsighted, bucktoothed, and cowlick-tressed. I wore ugly sweaters and thick-ribbed brown corduroy trousers. I recall extreme teasing which today would be called bullying, and stories saved me. I saw the unmistakable imprints of Mr. Tumnus’ cloven hooves in the snow. Scratches in the paint of our front door were made by Gandalf. I was Lucy, pushing to the back of the camphor-scented wardrobe; I was Bilbo on a pony in the forest, hungry midmorning for bread and cheese.

I read everything in our house that was written for children, then I stole a copy of Judy Blume’s Wifey from my mother’s bookshelves. Wifey is about a housewife having an affair, and the book exposed me to the prurient possibilities of print. Caught reading Wifey, I promised not to lend it to my friends, then promptly (but creatively!) broke my promise by reading the steamy sections out loud to a friend, in our backyard. My mother overheard, and I was punished. Corporeally.


2 thoughts on “Safe Between the Pages

  1. This time is so interesting and the” book therapy” that is so powerful all of ones life is worth thinking back on. I read some life changing books and had a few special teachers who introduced book talk as a way of life then too. I remember in grade 6 our teacher gave a group of girls in the class Island of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell to read and discuss. The ideas in that story were profoundly frightening and inspiring. Stayed with me, as did To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee in grade nine. Her one great story! They both lingered in my mind and still do. I was in a book club for 14 years in Kamloops while raising young children through the teen years and it was so important to staying sane…for all of us I think. Only nursing babies were allowed to come to the monthly discussion and our reading was shared and so meaningful to our lives. I am enjoying your posts and also reminded to write every day!

    • Book clubs are such a fabulous way for people who love reading to connect, in an increasingly impersonal age. To Kill A Mockingbird is etched in my consciousness as well. Are you blogging as well, Norah? We could link to each other’s sites?

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