Last week's election was one of the most contentious the United States has ever seen. And in the aftermath, regardless of how we voted, all of us in the USA are feeling a sense of divide, one that we know is mirrored across much of the world. How do we reach across that chasm to engage in meaningful dialogue? How do we build a bridge between us? To continue that metaphor, how do we find the bricks to build that bridge, made of the solid stuff we have in common? Because we do have so many things in common.
We don't have any good answers about how to find one another again. But we do know one thing: books. All of us at BookBrowse know that books can be a part of the process. You do too. Books are doors through which we can walk to learn about new people, new places, and new ideas. They are mirrors into which we can see ourselves just a little more clearly. And they are maps which can guide us as we get up in the morning, move through our day, go to bed and do it all again the next day. Books are a safe way to try on new perspectives. They are a bold way to articulate what we believe, and to challenge our beliefs.
As the oldest of four boys, growing up amid the open spaces of Iowa, I was used to having more than my share of freedoms. Walking to school, fishing alone at night on a nearby river, and patrolling the neighborhood on my trusty Schwinn bike were all activities that I took for granted. So was watching television. My brothers and I never abused the TV privilege but we certainly enjoyed catching a college football or basketball game. My parents, who were both big readers, weren't fans of TV, and tried to limit our viewing opportunities.
Show me a voracious reader and I will show you someone who I daresay had a lonely, miserable and isolated childhood -- at least, I did.
As a child, I read to escape, to find friends, to travel to distant parts of the world, and to try to make sense of a world that I found pretty baffling. I was the type of girl who read cereal boxes, the tags on mattress covers, and the comics in Hubba Bubba gum.
I learned to read when I was four years old and books have been a very important part of my life ever since. There were plenty of them around. My parents bought many books - cheap editions of classics available in regular bookstores, pre-war editions of books one could only get at second-hand bookstores and flea markets. There were libraries, too, but more popular titles were hard to get and there were no holds, unless a librarian took pity on me and helped me secure what I craved.