When Books Are More Than Books

Its amazing how big life changes can send us running back to the comforting habits of home. I’ve been absent from Books N’ Things for a long while now — actually over a year — and in that time a lot has changed.

I’ve moved from rural Canada to urban USA, I’ve married the love of my life, I’ve changed jobs and churches and learned (sometimes daily) how to let go of the familiar things of home, I’ve become a “homemaker” and learned how to love it more and more each day.

Essentially, when I officially made the move to Oregon in July 2015, my entire world as I knew it was upended. At times it felt like it was all falling down around me, at times I felt like the loneliest person on the planet, and at times I felt like there was nothing familiar left for me to seek comfort in. Of course, that wasn’t completely true. I had my faith, husband, I had my favorite belongings surrounding me in our new home, I had semi-regular FaceTime dates with my family, and above all else, I had my books.

Books were my constant and reading was the easiest form of therapy, escape and coping that I could find. The incredible transition, while filled with exciting adventures and so much joy, sent me into an emotional spiral where everything felt uncertain. That huge box of books that accompanied my minimal belongings into this new life was in so many ways an emotional lifeline. Just looking at our small home library was comfort enough some nights; I often found myself curled on our couch staring at the spines of favorite books, remembering that a tiny piece of my old self had joined me in this unknown place.  And on other nights, it was the easiest way for me to redirect my negative spiraling thought, instead focusing on the drama and growth of favorite characters.

In truth, I hadn’t actually read much in 2014, and 2015 was so busy that my reading list could be titled “False-Starts” or “Wishful Thinking”.  Most of the books I picked up in 2015 are still unfinished, abandoned in lieu of immigration paperwork, grading final projects, long-distance wedding planning, and ever elusive sleep.  And yet, even in those years I would have labeled myself a bookworm. There is a special place in my heart for the written word and my long history of cuddling up with a warm cup of something and new book has formed an unbreakable bond.

This past year, living and working and constantly transitioning, would have been completely different if my constant companion had not accompanied me. Books have been the catalyst for healing, for calming flighty (and fighty) nerves, for finding healing, building relationship and growing in familiarity & confidence in this new home of mine.

  • By providing a self-led way to relax at the end of a heart wrenching day of homesickness they have healed, and coaxed, and calmed and often distracted my hurricane heart.
  • Through evenings spent reading pages on pages of textbooks to my university student (now graduate!) husband, books have been the foundation on which I was able to build a stronger bond with Micah and sweet newlywed memories.
  • An invitation to join a book club with other bookish women at our church has helped my introverted self break the awkward “new-girl” ice and build friendships with women I might otherwise have been afraid to approach.
  • Seeking a library card, to find book club picks I didn’t own, provided a destination in which to aim for when breaking social anxieties and cautiously venturing alone the first few times, into the unfamiliar streets of my new city.

I’ve always loved reading and books; the feel of them in my hands and the adventures they take me on. This past year, though, I have found myself running to this familiar friend time and again and, as a result, this introverted childhood habit has reestablished itself as a longstanding pastime of mine. A way to break out of bad moods, to learn new things, to experience new adventures, to make new friends, to escape, and ultimately…to come home again.

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