Monday, May 7, 2012

Book, Books, Books

When I was a little girl, books were a huge part of my life. They were honored and sought after in our household. We'd go to the library and check out a great pile of picture books, bringing home the stack to pour over them. Those books had weight and a particular smell. As we turned the sometimes dog-eared pages with our fingers, they had a special feel to them too. Some of the books were read once and returned straight away to the library, good to have experienced, but others...well, others were read over and over and over! We coveted them and did not want to return them to the library, so we hung on until the very last. Giggles, tears and delight; just some of the things that come to mind as we sat in the big brown chair in our jammies with a heavy picture book laid out over our laps.

What we're looking at right now!

As I grew older, I became an avid reader, gobbling up almost every genre I could get my hands on. Fortunately, my mother began working at our city library and helped nourish this hunger. Later she went back to school and became a librarian and a library administrator. Books and information were not only close at hand, but the lifeblood of our family. There were the Walter Farley and Dorthy Lyons horse stories, Roald Dahl, and then later, heavier stuff like Camus and Ayn Rand. Classics and sci-fi and mysteries; I loved it all. I loved holding a book in my hands and going to the library to pour through the stacks, knowing as evidenced by all the shelves, that there would always be more available to me.

The images in books steered me to a career in illustration. I always loved the pictures and aspired to be a children's book illustrator.  I met my first love at the library.  He worked with my mom as a clerk. I always got to see my mom there too and I got to feed my love of stories and images. It was a home away from home.

As my own children grew up, books took on another layer of meaning for me from a mothers perspective. My kids were a handful, but books in the evening were something they both appreciated and looked forward to. Books quieted and soothed them. We still remember many of the books word for word. A few were read every single night and have the worn pages and bindings to show how well loved they were.

As time goes by and we no longer open many of those books, we've passed on all but the most precious for other readers to enjoy. They don't all need to sit on our shelves for us to feel their impact. If they did, our house would be brimming with them anyway. Not good!

We still visit the library, although a lot less frequently and when we do, it's primarily for art books. We live close to a university library which is open to the public and they have an amazing art book collection! We always marvel at the books because most look as though no one has ever checked them out. The are brand new! Maybe no one does. Isn't that sad? Books still play such an important role in my life and I hope they stay around in their original form for a very long time. Not a week goes by without a big pile of art books landing somewhere in the house. There is just nothing more satisfying than hefting one of them onto your lap in the evening and pouring through the pages, getting inspired, awed and humbled by another artist. It's not the same on the internet, although a great place to see lots of stuff, it's just not the same.

So, as I prepared for an extended trip of teaching workshops, I loaded up my ipad with titles I hope to get to. I'm a little sad about it because I still haven't gotten used to reading from the ipad. I want that book in my hands to touch, to feel and to smell. I want to highlight sections and write notes in the margins. Maybe you can do that on the ipad?

Just a very few favorites. I'd love to hear what yours are!!

Art Books:
Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis
How I Paint; Secrets of a Sunday Painter by Thomas Buechner
Wolf Kahn Pastels
John Singer Sargent by Ratcliff
The Art of Richard Diebenkorn by Livingston
Impressionist in Winter by Wilson

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A Day Book by Ann Truitt
Art and Fear by Orland and Bayles
Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel


Barbara said...

Hi Marla, I know how you feel. No, the iPad isn't the same but does mean not having to turn on the light and annoy a sleeping husband when I am sleepless and need to read. It will grow on you.

Marla Baggetta said...

I'm hoping it will, Barbara. My trip is going to be long! Thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate it!