My obsession? That's easy: books. I love books and everything connected with them: book blogs, bookstores, used book sales, libraries...especially libraries. Aren't they still the best deal going? When I was growing up, my mom didn't drive, but we lived a few blocks from the Emerson Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library, my favorite place in the world. The librarians had these mesmerizing pencils that had a little rubber date stamp attached to the tip so that they could initial and date the checkout card with one efficient stroke; I thought they had the best job on earth. I loved the quiet, the card catalogs, and that intoxicating smell...sort of musty, but sort of magical. And apparently, the addiction is genetic: When my daughter was small, as I was tucking her in one night, she opened her book and cooed, "I love how books smell." Call me a sentimental fool, but it was one of my favorite parenting moments of all time.
As a kid, on a summer day, I'd take my library books home to the coolness of our screened-in porch where I would begin a little ritual that I still perform: I'd read the first paragraph of each book I'd checked out and one with the best paragraph would be the one I'd read first. To this day, if I pick up a book that doesn't have a great first paragraph, I rarely read any further.
The books I've drawn are my copies of favorites from that era of the visits to the Emerson library. Top to bottom: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter A classic, of course: the size, the story, and those illustrations. Loved 'em then, love 'em now. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, illustrations by Garth Williams Easily my favorite book of all time, and some of my favorite illustrations as well. I'm thrilled that kids still read it in school; it has stood the test of time unbelievably well. I received this copy for Christmas when I was nine. I also got a little tape recorder, and I would sit and read Charlotte's Web into it and play it back to myself...such a book geek. Audio books, circa 1966. Magic to Burn by Jean Fritz I loved this book and read it over and over after doing a book report on it in fourth grade. American kids find an elf while on vacation in England, and bring him home with them. Sadly, it's out of print now, but I found this copy on eBay several years ago. On Cherry Street - the reader we used in first grade. We didn't have Dick, Jane and Spot, we had Tom, Betty and Flip. Another eBay purchase. Sugarplum by Johanna Johnston One of the books that we owned, and we must have read it a million times. This was our copy; I found an identical one online for my sisters birthday a few ago.
What were the books that were most important to you as a child? NOTE: If you're a book lover, I urge you to get your hands on a copy of Anna Quindlen's indescribably wonderful little book, How Reading Changed My Life...it will change yours.