Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Confessions of a Book Whore: Stealing Books, Without Knowing It...



Remember the scene from Matilda (The Movie, not the book), where four-year-old Matilda walks off to the library (without any supervision) and begins to adopt a world of books that ultimately makes her my favourite book hero of all time.

That was me. My father was given the tumultuous task of taking me out for the day on a Saturday and for a man, who lives in a house filled to the brim with women, needed at least one day without them. I would be shoved into the back of a car, tog bag in tow, and my father ching-chong-cha-ing through the possible activities that would occupy an eight-year-old with fairly less involvement.

As an only child I was easily occupied, even in a smokey pub with men triple my age. Now don’t frown your brow on my folks parenting skills but I wasn’t part of a ‘normal’ family in the first place.  

So after the third Saturday, there was only so much politics and horse racing the eight-year-old me could fake her way through and how convenient that the library was only down the road. Dad shoves R20-00 in my pocket and off I go ...

I can’t tell you how the doors looked or who the librarian was all I can remember were the colours. The colour spines that called me forward, curling their fingers towards me whispering “Pick me”. My eyes wide and fingers itching to touch the taped spines of the books, I picked my first book. Esio Trot by Roald Dahl. The book that turned my eight-year-old life on its head; it wasn’t until I finished the book did I get Esio Trot ... how clever I thought!  

This was so nifty! All these books! Like an open candy store that you don’t need to pay for the sweets. So I packed the book in my rucksack and headed back to the pub. This went on for months and it wasn’t until I was 10 and an English teacher had encouraged us to get a library card (“Because Books expand your minds, children” she said) that my mother grabbed me by the wrist and hauled me into an already familiar world.  

I stood there thinking cheekily, ‘God, I have never needed a card before’. Yes, I was technically stealing books but I didn’t know that? When I held my card for the first time, I can only imagine that is how Harry Potter felt when he held his acceptance letter into Hogwarts, or how Charlie Bucket felt when he found the Golden Ticket in the chocolate bar.

I would have danced (with spirit fingers breathing heavily) and sang – If I had known how (I have two left feet) and guaranteed people would join in. Two years later, the guilt sunk in and I vowed to take care of all my books – hence my obsession. It wasn’t until my dearest friend Steven confessed behind an Exclusive Books counter that he would circle Wally in the Where’s Wally books at the library in thick black Koki that I truly forgave myself, because really he made sure everyone found Wally!!!

I love my library, even though I have absolutely no time to visit it and instead fulfil my book habits online in crammed in my room – it is this reason they are closing like an endangered species. Every time a library closes an angel dies ... Its horrific!

Libraries are like the houses you get lost in, the doors open with magic dust and welcomes you in with a warm smell of cookies and books – I mean what more can I person really need. These colossal homes hold grand stories of love, secrecy and politics ...



Confession: I stole books without knowing it.


 

2 comments:

cat_hellisen said...

Omg fantastic, but now I need to know what happened to the stolen books....

I'll never rest unless you tell me. hahaha

It's a Book Thing said...

I'd always take them back... The next week. So I was obeying the rules except without the card!

:)

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