Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Books Feed the Soul

Comfort books are like comfort foods. We crave them when we’re missing…something…not sure what. Like opening the fridge door and staring inside…every ten minutes.

That’s the way I felt last night standing in front of my bookcase. Nothing appealed to me. It felt kind of like the fridge door scenario. Then I spotted it. Hadn’t read the book for years. To be honest, I couldn’t remember the storyline. I did remember that it has remained a favourite in my mind. It’s true. Ask me about my favourite books and I usually mention Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups.

I sighed. Just a little sigh. If you’d been standing beside me you might not have heard it. It was a satisfied sigh. In keeping with the fridge door analogy, it was like spying that last piece of lemon meringue pie. Those little dewy beads on the meringue shimmering under the light of the tiny bulb. It was that let’s sit down and get all cozy and enjoy this kind of feeling.

I reached for the book and slid my hand around a bookmark that was gathering dust on the shelf. I groaned with delight after reading only the first few paragraphs. Almost as satisfying as a piece of pie, but not as fattening. Come to think of it, I was stuffing chewy cubes of old cheddar and crunchy rice crackers into my mouth at a staggering rate. Keep Calm and Go to the Gym…tomorrow.

I read the opening paragraphs again…and then again. Four times in all. Savouring them. When my husband joined me, I shared the beginning with him. The writing is wonderful, isn’t it, I asked. We know so much about this character in those few lines. At least, we think we know. My husband and I both agreed that it was a terrific lead-in to the book.

Sparks fired and mis-fired in my brain as memory of the story flashed through my mind. Not a flash really, not like fireworks. It was more the flickering of a birthday candle. I turned to the last page and read it but still I couldn’t quite remember the bits that happened from the first page to the last.

Once my husband joined me, I put the book aside. We talked, enjoying our time together in the coziness of the family room. Appreciating it even more knowing that it was bitter cold and windy outside. Not that I’d been out recently but I had been on Facebook and that’s as good as watching the weather forecast on TV. Better sometimes. My husband attested to the outdoor temperature and so did Lexus. Normally not one to like the heat, our dog cozied up to the front of the fireplace. Something about seeing her there always makes me want to take a picture. And I have, many times. Most of them have Tiki in them. Our black Persian passed away in April. She loved the sheepskin rug in front of the fire. That’s where she died. Then I took up the rug and put it away. It was too much of a reminder each time I was in the room. Missing her.

Marv and I decided it was time to bring the rug out again. Perhaps Lex would like to use it. She occasionally stretched out on the sheepskin over the years – when Tiki was in a charitable mood and willing to share.

I never did return to my book last night. Sometimes mere nibbles satisfy our cravings.