Magic Portals

The first Harry Potter movie is playing on television this evening, and Harry has just walked through the portal into Diagon Alley for the first time. I can remember where I was when I read the book, a recommendation from my nephew. It was a thick book, but after a few pages of reading, the thickness was comforting, assuring me that I was in for a good read. We were on vacation, and I stole moments when I could, laying across the bed, sprawled in a lounge chair, riding in the back seat of the car, savoring the story of the boy who lived.

I didn’t have to worry about taking a test, or writing in my journal, or participating in book club. I knew I was have a wonderful conversation with my nephew when I saw him next but for now, it was the reading that took center stage. I stepped through the magic portal into Diagon Alley with Harry and never looked back.

As a younger girl, I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, another book with a magic portal. My bedroom in our house had a closet that reached far into the eaves. I was sure if I just crawled a little further, I would find myself in a new world that lay beyond the back of the closet. It was not to be, of course, but perhaps books were my magic portals.

I’m surrounded by books in my farmhouse library, some that have been with me for a lifetime. I can trace the timeline of my life, the arc of my education, as I browse the shelves. Like Harry Potter, I can remember where I was when I read many of them, which class I was taking or where I was living. There’s a trip across the state with The Da Vinci Code, its short choppy chapters marking the miles. It took Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings to get me across the United States.

The former owner of the house was also a book person. He owned a great collection of what I think of as dime novels, the small format paperbacks that were popular when I was young. They line a top shelf and I’m determined to read through some of them. He was evidently fascinated by contemporary science, and there are books that live just on the edge of my memories, books about genetics and computers at a time when they still seemed like magic portals.

I’ve got a running list of books to read for now, but I’m exploring the challenges at LibraryThing. I’ve done two of them already in 2015–books by British and Australian writers–and had enjoyable reads of The Remains of the Day and Gould’s Book of Fish, both of which have been lurking for some time.  I finished some great books the last time I dove into reading gamification.


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