Books have always been a treasure to me and my inspiration for becoming an author—it’s hard to imagine a life without access to books. I recently read a fictional account of the packhorse librarians who delivered books to remove areas of the Appalachian Mountains during the Great Depression. My mother arrived in this world soon after the start of this historical timestamp.
She was born at home in a Baltimore rowhouse, to a mother and father who would divorce before her first birthday. My grandmother worked in a sewing shop to help support her two young daughters. My grandfather drove a delivery truck. Purchases were prioritized by needs. Mortgage, food, heat.
When my mother died, I found a treasure hidden away in the back of her coat closet–a book I never knew existed. Each time I’ve held it in my hands, I consider what this single book must have meant to her.
The front of the book is dark brown with “HEIDI” in all caps followed with the author’s name and the outline of two goats. Inside, my mother colored the simple sketches of mountain scenery and the protagonist. Inside the front cover there’s an inscription—To Marion; From Dad. Judging by the poor condition of the binding and the multiple dog-eared pages, she read the book often. It may have been the only one she ever owned.
There were no shelves of books in our house when I was a young child, but I considered the local library shelves as my own. The Giving Tree taught me to be kind, the Nancy Drew Mystery series showed me it was good to be inquisitive, and classics like Treasure Island and Hans Brinker took me to new places. Books inspired me to be a better person, to see the world, to improve my own writing. How would my life be different without books? Would I explore new places? Would I learn more about people outside my limited reach? Would I understand that dreams are achievable?
My house is filled with books. To me, each one is a treasure. The words are black and the pages are white. But just like the sketches in my mother’s Heid book, the color is there. It exists between the lines, with each turn of the page, with each character and storyline. My favorite authors have that ability—to light up the known and unknown with an undeniable spectrum of light and color.