By Desanka Vukelich, For the Love of Words
Published: September 28, 2011
I credit my mother and her dedication to reading for planting the seed that grew into my love of books. From babyhood, she read to me and my siblings, introducing us to a myriad of fables and stories and fairytales. One of the first books she gave me to read on my own was L M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I have read this series countless times from childhood to adulthood and as familiar as I am with the tapestry of stories woven by the author’s richly imaginative mind, each time I read it over, I discover a new quirk, a delightful charm that had somehow passed unnoticed the previous reading. She always makes it so worthwhile to repeat the experience of reading her words: falling in love with Gilbert anew, feeling Anne’s anger and pain, hurting over the sadnesses, sobbing over the joys, all as if it were for the first time.
I couldn’t imagine a life without books. My most treasured possessions are the titles stacked on my desk, crammed into my bookshelf and lined up along the top of my dresser. Books themselves form bookends to their book friends. Coffee table books I display like others would artwork, giving them pride of place at eye level. When I close the lid to my laptop, I am greeted with images of the Paris metro. They form the cover of an over-sized book of photographs of the city’s metro system and instantly transport me to the bowels of the capital: the squeal of the rubber tires grinding to a halt, the heady stink of hundreds of people crammed together in a dank dark cavern, the squeezing of one’s body in amongst those of the citizenry on an always interesting ride.
Trawling through second-hand bookshops has become an addiction to which I feel no shame in admitting. Even anticipating such an outing brings me joy; the smell of the musty, dusty yellowed pages captures me every time. I cherish every one of my pre-loved books and take comfort from knowing that many others before me shared intimate moments with this story, with those characters, and their lives were enriched for it.
On a trip to the country to visit my mother last Easter, I stumbled upon a book sale as part of a nearby county fair. After half an hour of rummaging, I found a gem – a book from 1915 and in beautiful condition. I took my duty seriously to continue to give it the care it deserves. It’s called A Heroine Of France, a story of Jeanne d’Arc, by Evelyn Everett-Green, and, as the careful handwriting penned on the first page tells, was awarded to a Miss Dobson in her Sunday school class just after the turn of the last century. I couldn’t have been happier had I discovered a pot of gold! Imagine the thrill it would have been for the small child to have received this book as a reward for her studies! The pride she must have felt would have been forever linked with the book I now held in my hands almost one hundred years on.
When the love of reading grabs you, you are set up for a life of travel, adventure and learning, of being exposed to ideas and cultures vastly different to your own and through it all, grow to be tolerant and compassionate of others and equipped to stand in someone else’s shoes. You understand that our Universe is filled with magic. Your vocabulary broadens. Your ability to communicate with others grows in confidence. Your imagination is expanded. From reading, only good things come. And on that note, will you forgive me? For, I must return to my book.
Desanka Vukelich is a freelance copy editor, proofreader and blogger. She runs her business, For The Love Of Words, from her home in Sydney, Australia. Reading is her great love. www.fortheloveofwords.com.au
 Metro, Gingko Press in Association with Kill your Idols, USA 2005.
 Thomas Nelson & Sons, London and Edinburgh, 1915.