When my youngest daughter was transitioning from Primary to High School I made a massive mistake in gifting her the book, 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.
Why was this a mistake? Because both our lives became book-centric involving visits to book sales and secondhand outlets in search of the books on The List. It became our” thing”. My child is the one you see lugging a suitcase on the train to enable her to bring purchases home from the Lifeline Bookfest. Her greatest joy comes from spreading her purchases on the floor all around her, similar to how we emptied the contents of our Easter Showbags all those years ago and sat enthralled as we surveyed all that was on offer.
She’s been home these last few days and is still chasing books from The List. Plus, thanks to the ABC television program of late last year we are now also chasing the books from The Books That Made Us.
Cat Balou’s time in Qld went all too quickly and we’ve cooked together, chatted non stop, laughed, and drank coffee ( as well as lots of bubbly things). Walking home from a Cafe one morning she spotted a table on someone’s front lawn with a sign advertising Free Books. Move over Cathy Freeman – I’ve never seen anyone move so fast! Another twenty books for the Little Community Library. Excellent work.
We walked up to the Little Community Library one afternoon where she of course insisted on alphabetising the contents. She also located another entry from The Books That Made Us compilation which she celebrated like a medal winner on the Olympic podium.
The local Op Shop was another adventure (because Mo, I need a book for the plane ) where said child, 34 years of age, located yet another read from The List. WOW, this is turning into an exciting holiday, she says. Only 300 more books to locate.
This is one happy daughter.
Until she spots a lone book on a display shelf.
Mo, have you been donating any books here, she asks. Yes, Cat Balou, sometimes I do that. Books are meant to go round.
Mo, she says, Mo, is that my book that I lent you and asked you to return before Christmas? And is that my copy of the Booker Prize winner you were supposed to send to my sister for Christmas?
An expensive little visit to the charity store as I was required to buy back many of the books I had donated in recent months.
My payback came when reminding her that a new edition of the 1001 Books had been recently published adding almost an extra 100 newer novels since her copy was released twenty years ago. More books to collect, kiddo, said with a smirk from mother.
The house is quiet once again and we are living on pots of tea, cheese and biscuits, and left over San Choy Bow. Cat Balou has returned to her 1 bedroom, 1 reading room unit in a trendy pocket in the nation’s capital and my Wizard Of Oz jigsaw puzzle which scares the bejesus out of her is back on display.
“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”
– Clementine Paddleford
“Miss you heaps.”