After we moved out of Vancouver into the Valley, I started late at my new school and spent my first week’s worth of recesses and lunch breaks sitting on the back set of steps making pictures on the concrete with pebbles. But from the second week onwards I spent those blocks of time in the school library because it reminded me of my dad’s home office with its walls of countless volumes. It wasn’t long before I opted to wait there for my mother at the end of the school day, instead of out front or on the playground with the other kids. When the school librarian told my mother somewhat aggressively that she wasn’t paid to turn the library into an after-school daycare, my mother’s response was that if the library was open until three-thirty and a child chose to wait there until three then it was still a library, plain and simple.
I got my first public library card at the end of my grade one year and joined the public library’s summer reading club with my brothers. The summer passed by quickly, and I passed through it with my nose in a new book every couple of days. It seemed to help me forget that the tentative friendships from the classroom hadn’t made it to summer vacation.
From then on, I always had books with me. The more I read, the more I was convinced that I preferred the company of characters in novel to that of my peers, and that the places in those books made my small Valley hometown look rather drab in comparison. My awkward elementary school self yearned for the ability to dive headlong into a book and be physically transported to its world. If I had that ability I could be best friends with Jem and Scout; tell riddles to Gollum and Bilbo; join the Fellowship and help save Middle-Earth; write for The Pickwick Paper with the March sisters; have tea and biscuits with either talking animals or genteel folk in charming English gardens; and so much more besides.
Looking back, I wish I could hug that lonely kid and tell her that things will work out, and that she won’t have to hide in books forever. But, knowing her, she’d probably ask me what I do now in adulthood when I feel like I need to protect myself from people. And the answer is still the same: pick up a book, curl up somewhere comfy-cosy, and wish I was inside it rather than here.
The 15-minute book club is where I’ll post about my favourite books in an attempt to share with you the characters and places that have left lasting impressions on my life, as well as why they are so special to me. I hope you’ll discover something here, whether it’s a shared love for a particular novel or if it’s a new book to hunt down and dive into.
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