Lianne from Big Rapids, Michigan

Books and libraries have always been a part of my life.  It is part of the fabric of who I am.  There is hardly a week that goes by that I don’t make a visit to a library.  And for those who think they are to busy to read – I work full time as a college professor, have a nine year old son, and am completing my PhD.

My mother loved to read.  My father worked second shift when we were kids.  We didn’t have a television.  Every night we would all pile into my mother’s bed and snuggle down for a story.  Inevitably we would all fall asleep there and dad would carry us to bed when he came home.  Mom always read us stories from the Bible or stories that would instill good moral character in us.  I still remember those stories and even read the same books to my son.  We frequently visited our small public library as kids. 

As an adolescent and teenager I read a lot.  We lived on a farm far from town.  Much of the time we didn’t have a television and when we did there were only a couple channels.  Through books I traveled the world and lived all kinds of adventures.  Not hard to believe that I was in an accelerated reading program.  I read a Tale of Two Cities at eleven years old and loved it.

After college I lived all over the country.  Everywhere I lived I had a library card.  Books were my constant companion.  I moved frequently and worked odd hours in restaurants and hotels.  I never had a television.  I spent endless hours reading book after book.  Rather than closing the bars down at night I would stay up until all hours with a good book I could not put down.  I often read two or three books a week.

Now as I parent myself I try to pass on my love of reading to my son.  We often check out books on wildflowers, insects, and mushrooms.  We use these to help identify the things we see in the woods around our house.  I read to him every night at bedtime.  My son’s school recently took a field trip to our local library.  He could not understand why they would take a field trip to the library.  He is there every week; it is nothing new to him.  He does not understand that many people don’t even have a library card. 

I have a very busy life but there two things I make time for - reading and exercise.  I consider them both essential to keeping my mind sharp.  I often do them together by listening to a book on tape while walking, biking or cross country skiing.  Being able to read and exercise at the same time helps motivate me to stay in shape.  I squeeze reading in by listening to books on tape while cleaning house, weeding the flowers, or mending.  When I travel alone on business I always have a book on tape or CD to listen too.  When I travel with my son in the car we listen to books to pass the time.

I cannot imagine my life without books or libraries.  I panic if I finish a book and don’t have another to start. I often reread books I have loved in the past.  It is like visiting an old friend one has not seen in years.  As a college professor, I often hear students about to graduate excited that they won’t have read anymore.  To me this would be punishment.  I cannot imagine the prospect of life without books, or life without learning.  My teenage niece and nephew recently called me a nerd.  Well, I guess I am nerd and proud of it.