Book People – The Power of Parents’ Influence on Reading

Wonderful drawing and quote seen recently on the chalkboard in the entrance to Baker Bookstore in Grand rapids, MI.

I was particularly fascinated by the density and sheer volume of books in my father’s study. There were books on shallow open shelves and books stacked high against the wall. A large wardrobe – wide and deep like the Narnia variety – held hundreds more titles, and these books were shelved three layers deep: books behind books behind books. On lazy afternoons I’d settle myself, cross-legged on the floor, in front of the wardrobe to explore what exactly was in there. My method involved pulling armfuls of books from the first layer to expose the second, setting neat stacks all around me until I hit the wardrobe’s back wall. I felt like I was digging or buried treasure, and looking back, I don’t think my first impression was too far off.

…I am happy to report that, thanks to nature, nurture, and my parents’ dissimilar habits, I grew up visiting both the library and the bookstore, and I haven’t changed much either. My mom took me to the former, of course, giving me space to wander, browse the shelves at leisure, and check out whatever I wanted on my own library card. My father took me to the bookstore to do much the same, except that I had to buy any books I wanted to take home. A reader himself, he wanted to do his own browsing, and he encouraged me to do my own.

Before I grasped what habits were or why they mattered, my grooves had been dug deep: I’d become the kind of person who sought out books. The library served its purpose well, but given the choice as a kid, I’d take the bookstore every time.

rather-be-reading-bogel-2018Taken from that (almost finished) summer read I picked up at Baker Book House. In I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, lifetime reader Anne Bogel reflects on the paradoxes of readers and bibliophiles like herself. The chapters are short and packed with great insights and encouragements about the literary life – the highs and lows, the tears and triumphs of reading.

The above quotation is taken from chapter 18, “Book People” (pp.124-30). While I obviously love libraries, I’m with Bogel on this one: give me a good bookstore anytime. 🙂 How about you? And are you surrounding your children and grandchildren with good literature? Are you helping them become “book people”?