To state the painfully obvious, I love books. I love literature, stories, novels, and mysteries, but I am also obsessed with actual, physical, tangible books.
This infatuation has played a significant part in my life. As a young girl, I carried around HP4 not only to read and re-read, but to hit the bullies who tried to steal my pencils during class. (Aaaaaaaaaaaand my social standing just plummeted by admitting that. Honey badger don't care.) I read the entire Anne of Green Gables canon while driving to Prince Edward Island on a family vacation and clutched a copy while strolling the Haunted Wood and Lover's Lane. After the beanie baby phase died out (praise the Lord), I got a Nancy Drew for every Christmas/Easter/birthday from my grandma, until I owned all 63 installments. As a (snotty, insufferable) freshman in high school I found the AP Lit reading list and read all the books on it, just to say that I had...and kept that up for the next three years.
In college I swore off reading for fun, because I needed to devote all my time to studying...until I realized I was drowning, and my only remedy for sanity was a good book. Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise was the book that pulled me out of that funk; it has an Obama sticker on the first page, because that's what I was reading the day I got to vote in my first election.
Now, I'm reading an obscene amount every day. Because there's not much else I want to do, nor is there much to do.
But, guys. There's a problem. It's not working like it's supposed to. And I know why (tablets suck, hello), but I don't know what to do about it. I love reading, yes, but I love books (almost) more. I love them on my shelf, like friends, like reminders of other realities and problems and places and lives and people. I can't be lonely when I have my books with me. But here in Albania? I can't collect books! I can't bring them home to the States and I certainly don't have the money to buy new ones all the time. I've borrowed some titles from the PC Office in Tirana, but I have to return them eventually (despite an overwhelming urge to squirrel them away somewhere in my apartment forever). I miss my 100 gallons of books from home. I don't feel at home here because I'm not surrounded by books, which are the one thing I've always been surrounded by.
Today, though, I said to myself (honestly, I talk in memes, and it's horrible):
I needed to surround myself with pages of old paper and ink and memories. And I found our library here in Lushnje, connected to a little museum, run by a woman whose name literally means garden in shqip. Because, honestly, folks? I need books in my life. Lots of them.