It’s the end of the year and so, like everyone else on Facebook, I’m already tired of year in review posts. I’m introspective enough and don’t need to review photos where I look awful of nights I barely remember. Further, I’m not usually one to comment on how blessed I am because normally I make fun of people who do. Instead, I’m going to Disneyland with my husband, because we’re adults.
Before we’ve even left for the airport, however, I can’t help but get excited. Not just because I’ll be at Disneyland, but because like all bibliophiles, I get excited at the thought of long trips of uninterrupted reading time. To me, the idea of a long car/plane/bus/packhorse is almost as exciting as whatever lies at the end of it. Pensively I recall some of my road-trip reads, Geography Club on the 10 hour trip through the Rockies, or And Then There Were None while hungover on the way home from my Fagette party. But some of the best, the very best memories of books were when I read Harry Potter 2, 4, & 7.
Nostalgia grips me as I recall each of them. I disappeared into The Chamber of Secrets largely on the way home from Disneyland when I was in grade 8. It was early January and I remember picking it up at a bookstore on one of the last days of the trip. I assumed at the time that it was some kind of serendipity that I would find the sequel to the amazing book I finished the night before we left. Of course this was me being stupid as at that point in time, the third book had been out for some time and J.K. Rowling was to readers (and non-readers) what One Direction is to 12 year old girls and gay men.
In any case, I burned through it quickly but reverently as though each word were scribbled on parchment. While the rest of my family was sitting in the airport sad to be leaving, I was enthralled by a book and was eager for the return home. The trip itself is that much more memorable because of The Chamber of Secrets. In the same way, reading The Goblet of Fire on the way to my parents cabin (and obsessively re-reading it while there) has created a distinct association between the two. It was like how some people smell freshly mowed grass and think of their childhood.
By the time The Deathly Hallows came out, I was fortunate enough to pick it up from a convenience store at 6 am when my nightshift in North Vancouver ended. Instead of going home, I headed out to my future-husband’s parents’ house which was a trek in an of itself. We were going camping that weekend and I didn’t have time to go home so I sat immersed in the book on the skytrain. I didn’t care that I was covered in concrete and smelled like sweat and tobacco. I was already at Godric’s Hollow and couldn’t be bothered. Eventually I had to look up from my book, but only because it was my turn to hold my newborn niece.
I suppose the point of this whole rambling, anti-nostalgic inspired, nostalgic entry is that books aren’t just isolated adventures that you put down once you’ve finished them. They aren’t distractions or a time consuming pastime. Good books aren’t just amusing words which come together to form a story, good books are part of what makes your own story. Now when I think of The Chamber of Secrets, I remember the excitement of going to Disneyland (and can gloss over the arguments that my brothers had in the airport). The Goblet of Fire conjures up me sitting with my family around in a small cabin, heated by a wood stove and illuminated by a flickering candles. The Deathly Hallows reminds me of the dewey grass on the morning I was going camping on our inaugural annual Siblings and Significant Others Camping Weekend Extravaganza. At some point in my life, books stopped being something I read, and became something I participated in and gladly share this with others (even if no one gives them back).
And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.
~Stanley Tucci as Nigel, Devil Wears Prada
So this week I’ll be thinking of my favourite things, and hope that on this, my first trip to Disneyland with my husband, I’ll have chosen a really excellent book.