Books. I have conducted a life long love affair with books. My Mom and Granny read to us when we were little. When I was very young, I associated the act, of transforming black marks on a page into a story, with magic. Books possessed a mysterious alchemy. It was a revelation and a wonder, when I learned it was a mere and predictable configuration of lines and spaces that unlocked the secrets of the written word. Magic suddenly became an easily understood formula. The mystery of books dissolved. But to my surprise the magic continued. There are worlds in books.
Having taught myself to read before I entered the education system, with encouragement and a few basic tips from my Granny, I’ve dedicated a lot of waking hours to the pursuit of reading. My youth was spent reading literature. The first book I ever took out of the school library was Pilgrim’s Progress, and to be honest I wasn’t impressed with the story. Then I discovered The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, and a new and deeper perspective on religious theory opened up to me. Later, during my teen years, when I toiled at manual labour in my summer job picking fruit on a farm, I would read a book at night, and spend the next day, high on my ladder, or on me knees in a field, thinking about what I had read, turning it all over in my mind, looking at it from this perspective and that. My days, although filled with strenuous repetitive work, flew by, and I learned the freedom and joy of manual labour, the mind can fly.
When I entered post secondary education reading took on a completely different cloak. Articles and books were assigned, there was little to no time to explore ideas freely, knowledge was tightly conscribed to a narrow path. I learned to embrace that too, and to love the discipline of it. As time progressed, and I continued with my degrees, concepts and theories deepened in meaning, connections and pathways of thought revealed themselves.
When I left the academy, I was suddenly free to choose my own reading material. Oh the joy in that! I read primarily works written by women, for in the academy the vast majority of authors chosen for me were male. Then, after years of reading only female authors, I began to choose books based on a wide variety of elements.
Which brings me to the book I have most recently read, Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset. I bought this book in the early autumn of 2017, while I was still in mourning after the death of my brother in 2016, intending to read all 1124 pages over the course of the winter. Fate had other plans for me though. It was shortly after I began reading the book, and settling into a peaceful daily routine as the colder weather set in, that Attila announced he was leaving me. After that there was no peace in my life, for a very long time, and although I read occasionally, I did not read often. Attila did not leave, and slowly through 2018 life settled, and a new and fragile peace unfolded. Through 2019, I increasingly turned to my books.
On Saturday last, I turned the page to the very last, in the book Kristin Lavransdatter. I enjoyed the book, the medieval setting in Norway was authentically portrayed, as much as it could be for a book written in the 20th century. I occasionally found it tedious, as it dealt with the religious beliefs, and political climate, the superstructure, of the time. However, the author did not become lost in a fervour of religious or political details, but returned to the small scale human experience when the larger scale contexts of the time had been fleshed out.
I felt a little lost, when I closed the volume for the last time. This book sat by my side through some of the saddest moments in my life. And now, it is time to say thank you Sigrid Undset, thank you for the journey, the time we shared in the magic of story in a book. This book will always be a portal into my time of sadness, and the lights in my life that led me onward and outward.
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 15 July 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Dew point: 15.8°C
Wind: NW 6 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”
1778 – 1830