Thursday, March 8, 2018

These Books Carry Me

I have concerns. I’ve exhausted reputable online resources. I’ve exhausted less than reputable online resources.

Talking to people who know more than me helps. But it’s not what you think. Nobody knows everything. People don’t learn things just for the hell of it. You educate yourself on what you need. These people don’t know the answers because they haven’t needed to know the answers.

Talking with other people tells me something. They don’t know what I need to know.

Once again, it’s time for me to be the expert.

When the going gets tough, the tough get reading.

There’s history there.

Long ago, a phone call threatens to floor me. Except that being floored isn’t an option. Time doesn’t stand still because I’d like a mental health day.

There’s a book I know about but hope I will never need to read. I recognize when the jig is up. I need the book now. I needed it yesterday.

It’s a Friday. I make my way to kid number one’s school. The afternoon lays itself out expansively and I get to the neighborhood early.

I know the locations of every New York Public Library in every area I frequent. This East Side branch is a good one. I feel a mixture of hope and trepidation.

The book I need is on the shelf. Someone, somewhere is looking out for me. The universe is kind today. I hold this book in my hands with reverence. I sign it out.

I read the book while waiting for kid number one. I read the book on the bus, the subway, and while waiting for kid number two. The kids go to different schools so waiting time is important.

I read it on the subway ride home. I take breaks to talk with my children and ask about their days. I make myself available for questions and hand holding. But I still get a lot of reading done.

I read myself to sleep. I carve out time from my weekend to read the book. Having read - consumed - this book, it is now part of me. I reread the sections I like the most.

The book propels me and a cascade of activity follows. I hit the ground running on Monday.

I hold onto the book for dear life.

Some books stay for a short time. Some for longer. A few, forever. They all leave their indelible mark. The ship that passed in the night. The dog eared one still on my shelf.

By the time I’ve renewed the book twice, things are in a different place. The book helped bring me there and I brought other people along for the ride. I no longer have to have it on my person.

There have been other books. It’s time for the next one.

Not all concerns are emergencies. I have a little lead time on this. I get to do some clever matchmaking between myself and a book.

My initial Amazon search leads to ample results addressing my concern. I do a bit of sorting and get the number of possibilities down to 25.

I then go through, one by one, reading bits of chapters, looking at indexes, skimming reviews.

I need the book to tell me things I don’t already know. It needs to understand me. It should tell me it’s going to be okay.

Since my concern is already effortful, it needs to be a page turner. Most importantly, the book shouldn’t be a downer. It shouldn’t have a strident voice. It shouldn’t assume I’m an idiot either.

It’s a tall order, but when I see it I know. I’ve found my book.

I download it on the Kindle app. I start reading. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s more than the sum of its parts.

Dr. Spock said that you know more than you think you know.

I say a silent thanks to all of the books that have come before. I thank the books still to be written. The books I will read that I don’t yet know I will need. I will be able to find a book when something new comes up.

I thank the book I’m holding now. The book that is holding me.

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