Why I Read- The Bookmobile- Part 5

Believe it or not, I wasn't always a writing addict, but I must confess, I was still an addict. Every summer I'd try to break my record for most books read in a summer. It was my own little contest and no one was in on it but me. I kept a secret list and everything. (yeah, my kids might be right about me being a nerdy-geek type.) But! I did always break the record, because less face it, us addicts, we do things obsessively-well. Hundreds of books in a summer, each year more challenging than the last.
I read for the same reasons I write. I enjoy the freedom, the escape of new worlds, and the thrill of getting inside another mind. In one word, I read for FUN.

The first books I read were comics and historical non-fiction books about Egypt. I was obsessed with all things Egyptian. I remember the first author whose work I enjoyed, and how I came across his books.  It was on the Bookmobile (READ ABOUT THIS MAGICAL BUS HERE). Now like all brilliant people, I always start looking for books on the bottom shelf. To me, that's where the gems should be. That's where I hide all my good books no one is allowed to read but me. Of course, back then I had no idea books were in alphabetical order by authors-- that's like the stupidest way to arrange books ever, but what do I know?

Regardless, this meant  my first taste of novels was Eric Wilson. Gosh. He was awesome. Very Canadian, very in touch with his young readers, and he weaves a mystery that would make Scooby-doo proud.I read everything he wrote, joined his fan club and carried around his official member card. Who didn't? Right?

That memory of me on my knees discovering Eric Wilson triggered another, much sadder memory;
the last time I visited the Bookmobile. 
I was a grown up. The driver (Read about rule breaking librarians HERE) still had on the same nutso shirt, I swear he shopped on vacation, or maybe his entire life was a holiday. He had his nose in a book when I showed up, but honestly, that was the first time I ever caught him reading. A sci-fi he quickly shoved aside.

I can't imagine his life story, driving from town to town in a bus of books. He told me it was his last visit, and I could just drop my books off at the library in the neighboring town. I thought he was joking and when he saw me choke up, he quickly apologized as if I might break out in tears on him again.

I wandered that aisle by myself and picked out a few detective murder stories. It felt like a nice way to see it off. Murder and all. We chatted about nothing and he watched me walk off, my door only a hundred feet or so from where he was parked.

I sat in my writing room and looked down at the big book bus while I wrote about a haunted schoolyard in a drought and a cold epidemic that killed everyone- don't ask, the story still doesn't make sense, it was a traumatizing day and I was distracted. Not by the flow of people invading the bus that day, no, it was the opposite. He sat there all day with the door open and no one went in. Well, one dude walked up to the bus and tossed a book at the driver. Weird.

 It felt like a morbid funeral.

So the Bookmobile is gone. My rascals never got to live the magic of it. Of course, the school library has a much better bilingual selection, and the town library has access to every single library in the province including French ones. My card (READ ABOUT HOW I ALMOST DIDN'T GET ONE HERE) is good in any library in Saskatchewan.
Yes it is!
I can download e-books on two week lending periods.
Yes I can!
I can afford to buy books, not all of them, but enough to get by in a crunch.
I have shelves and shelves of books in my home library all organized in the order they should be read with the ones no one needs to read but me on the bottom back shelf, and the ones you need to read in a basket on top, ready to hand out when you stop by. (I mean really, that only makes sense.)

With all these books at our fingertips. We probably don't need the Bookmobile, yet, would I be who I am today without it? Without the driver? The urge to read every single book on that bus?

 I miss the smells. The respect we all had in the bus. The banter of kids in a tight area discussing adventures that could never happen to us. The thrill of always finding just the book you wanted and sneaking it pass the nuns without their approval. I just miss the magic of a bus full of books pulling up a block from my place. And no, I didn't buy the house because of its proximity to the Bookmobile stop, but damn, it wasn't a bad thing, was it?

You ever lose a place that changed your life? What places inspired you to read, or even write? Do you remember the first book or author who made you sit back and think, now this is storytelling?


Richard said...

I guess Edgar Allan Poe was the first storyteller that I became enthralled by. I loved his macabre tales. I was in my teens. Probably the next writer to capture my interest was Leon Uris. Battle Cry, Exodus, Mila 18 were books that drew me in. I remember reading Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger and being quite taken by it. After that, it gets kind of fuzzy.

There were no book mobiles where I grew up. I probably would not have had an interest in it had there been one. My interest in reading and writing came later in my teen years. Sports was my main interest through high school.

Victoria Lindstrom said...

My grandmother showered me with Golden Books from a young age. I know that dates me, but I am certain that is where my love affair with books began!

Kristy Shen said...

I loved the Bookmobile! That's where I used to get all my R.L.Stine books. :)

David P. King said...

I wasn't aware of a bookmobile, but it sounds like a lot of fun. I had to rely on book fairs until I was old enough to check out the book stores. The first book and author that made me think "now this is storytelling?" Orson Scott Card. :)

Anonymous said...

At least you pick the best addictions!

I had murder mystery taste as a kid - it started with Nancy Drew and progressed to Agatha Christie before middle school. Those are my first book memories.

That last day of your book bus was so sad. No wonder it haunts you.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Ah, Nancy Drew! Yes! I loved that series. I wanted to BE Nancy Drew. Before that, I loved all the magical adventures by Edith Nesbitt.

Tanya Reimer said...

I enjoyed Poe too, Richard, but more as I got older.

Victoria, my kids love those too.

Kristy, glad to hear someone else knows the magic of it.

David, and there I was with no clue what a book fair was. lol

Vicki and Elizabeth, Nancy Drew and Agatha. Yup. I was just showing my daughter my collection. (I have to admit, I loved the Hardy Boys a little more...) hee hee

Jess said...

We didn't have a Bookmobile :( In terms of books that really captured my heart at an early stage, I distinctly remember falling in love with The Cricket in Times Square...I should really read it again, now that I've thought of it!

Erin Kane Spock said...

I think all books should be filed based on the color of their spine. Not really -- but it would be pretty. :)
I was still in Ireland in 7th grade (1st year, secondary school) and we had an awesome library. The most you could check out per week was 2 books. Eventually the librarian made an exception for me. I lived in the middle of nowhere and escaped into books. I started with Nancy Drew, then Hardy boys, then Sherlock Holmes, then Agatha Christie. My mom referred to me, propped up on my elbows in bed reading, as 'the slug.' Of course, I walked several miles to and from school each day, so, thinking back, I probably needed that slug time.
Never visited a book mobile.
Thanks for sharing your story.

Teresa Cypher said...

Is there a way to place the bookmobile function in our children's lives. I mean the way it was an event. What do our children have now--equal to that? Good post, Tanya. You and your bookmobile are a lot of fun and good reading for us. :-) Thanks :-)

Valentina Hepburn said...

Hi Tanya,
No, we never had a bookmobile in our busy town. we had a library with a crusty old librarian. She didn't need a Halloween costume if you get my meaning. But I know what you mean about coveting and hoarding books. We had a big old chair in our living room - my reading chair. Every week I'd go to the book shop down the road and buy a new paperback with my pocket money -Anything Enid Blyton, Jill and her Pony, Jill Rides Again by Pat Blyth. I don't know why - I never properly rode a horse in my life. My favourite though, was Swallows and Amazons and anything by Dickens. Good memory provoking post.

Erin Kane Spock said...

Just letting you know I tagged you in a post. :)

Anonymous said...

No bookmobile??? No!!!!

I loved them when I was a kid. My work hosts Scholastic twice a year--I totally take a look at all the books...even if they're for itty bitty little kids, LOL!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I just loved this post. I don't remember a bookmobile in my life while growing up -- but then, we moved so much, maybe there was one in every town. What I do remember is that a very nice mobile library came around to the nursing home my mother was in years ago every two weeks, and she stocked up like crazy. And that made me so happy, because she turned me on to reading at an early age, and thanks to that, my life has been so much richer than it would have been without books.

As for an early discovery -- oh, the books of Edith Nesbitt! Those were books I read over and over, and how I longed to find a Psammead, a magic carpet, an amulet . . .