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Have won an award For the Love of Books

Story ID:1833
Written by:Wanda Molsberry Bates (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Writers Conference:$100 Prize - Shannon Hyle Memorial Contest – “For the Love of Books"
Location:Manhattan KS USA
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For the Love of Books.

Books: A magical word.
Library: An enchanted spot.

Books to me are treasures to be kept forever—companions which will not leave or be lost as passing years bring other losses. I recently heard a woman remark that she is never lonely if she has a good book to read. I’m sure that many book lovers share that sentiment and think of their books as among their most valued possessions.

My earliest memories go back to the days when my mother or one of my sisters would read to me at bedtime. I still have a worn cloth book with a large A and a picture of an apple on the cover and a page for each letter of the alphabet. My parents and siblings were all readers and there were always books in the house, some owned by family members and some borrowed from the local Library. I remember my sisters’ reading tales of the west by Zane Grey in the years when I wasn’t quite ready for that kind of reading but was more into "The Bobbsey Twins" and "Pollyanna."

Favorite books during my early growing-up years were "Elsie Dinsmore," "Anne of Green Gables," "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm," and books by Louisa Mae Alcott which included "Little Women," and "Jo’s Boys." Later I became fascinated by "Girl of the Limberlost" and other books by Gene Stratton Porter, as well as many of Bess Streeter Aldrich’s pioneer stories. I particularly remember Aldrich’s "A Lantern in Her Hand" and "Spring Came on Forever."

It isn’t possible to name the hundreds of books I have read during a long lifetime but there are many which have been favorites. During my school years I learned to enjoy poetry and other stories in textbooks, and in the days when Longfellow’s poetry was admired I memorized a number of his poems. I especially liked the works of Walt Whitman, James Russell Lowell, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I was introduced to Shakespeare when in high school and was intrigued with the many well-known quotations from his works. Along with several translations of the Bible a collection of Shakespeare’s writings has a special place in my book case.

My children are readers as was my husband. For several years everyone found a new book under the Christmas tree. When my husband and I were on a bus tour, one of the tour members was heard to say “That old professor always has a book in his hand.”

Light reading from writers such as Virginia Holt and Mary Higgins Clark(e) occasionally provide times of escape. At one time I enjoyed corresponding with Marjorie Holmes, a favorite author, to whom I summoned up courage to write a fan letter. I believe I have read everything she has written, and at one point I felt I needed to tell her how much I valued her books. To my great surprise she replied, and for several years we corresponded regularly. We were close in age and both grew up in the state of Iowa. She referred to me as a “kindred spirit” and to the two of us as “Iowa gals,” and she sent several of her books to me as gifts. I especially liked her trilogy about the life of Jesus, "Two From Galilee," "Three From Galilee," and "The Messiah," but I also treasure others of her books such as “Writing From the Heart,” and “Still By Your Side.” Corresponding with a real author was very special to me.

Another facet of my life with books is my writing book reviews for the local paper. I have published forty or more of them through the years. A special favorite is "First Mothers," a book by Washington correspondent Bonnie Angelo. This includes biographies of the mothers of eleven of the U.S. presidents, starting with F.D.R. Another keeper is the book "I’ll Be Home for Christmas," which is filled with reminiscences of Christmases in the years l94l through l945. Selected from the archives of the Library of Congress are poignant journal entries, letters, and magazine articles which show the courage and loneliness of service men and women and their families during WWII.

In recent years I have found writings by Christian writer, Philip Yancey, and books by Rabbi Kushner to be helpful reading. At this period in my life when, alas, I seek out large print books, I still love to go to the Library, and I am excited as I come home with a bag full of good reading.