The words opened up concepts I had never even imagined. I read on.
“In a thimbleful of air there are more atoms than you could count if you lived to be a million years old.” (I was currently eleven years old.)
I’d been snuggled up in the corner of the couch, reading, but I was so astonished by this new information that I got up and wandered around the house reading the sentences to anyone who would listen.
I was like Belle, walking around with my nose stuck in a book. That in itself wasn’t unusual, but said nose was usually stuck in a Nancy Drew or Judy Bolton book. In the summer of 1963 I broadened my world in every direction. I set out to read straight through all sixteen volumes of The Golden Book Encyclopedia. And I did.
I read all the time and everywhere, but the memory that stands out most clearly in my mind, is taking my book and climbing up to the little tree house my dad had built for us in the cherry tree. It was a roofless structure with four-foot-high walls, and a couple of little windows. A fair distance up the hill from our house. I would lie on the floor of the tree house and read, and then look up through the branches and ponder. And eat cherries.
The books are long gone. But for some reason I’ve always remembered those exact words describing atoms. They sort of make the caption on my mental picture of the summer of the encyclopedia.
A few weeks ago John and I were at a library sale shopping for books for One More Chapter. Imagine my delight when I caught sight of the first volume of The Golden Book Encyclopedia! As I stood there and thumbed through the book every picture brought back a shining clear memory.
From time to time I get an e-mail from someone asking about a particular book, trying to replicate a memory from their childhood. (“Does your book have a picture of such and such on the cover?”) Nostalgia. I love it when I can send them the very book they describe.
Now I was one of those people sending e-mails to booksellers, asking specific questions about a book from my childhood.
Volume two arrived a few days ago. Arthur to Blood. And there was the entry about atoms – word for word as I remembered.
And here I am again talking about it to anyone who will listen.
Post a comment and tell us your favourite book memory from your childhood.