They've been my companion when I've been lonely, and my friend when I've needed some time alone. As a child, I always delighted in receiving new reading material, whether from a bookstore, the school library or the public library. Obtaining my very own library card was a rite of passage: I had the responsibility of keeping the book safe, clean and intact so that the gift of the words inside could be passed on for others to enjoy. I took it seriously.
I grew up in a home with educators as parents, and our house included beautiful built-in bookshelves full of books that I would glance at as a young child, wondering when I would be old enough to understand the secrets held inside. I knew from a young age that as an African American, my ancestors were not allowed to read or write, and to do so was punishable by death--but I was given the chance to soak up all the words I could handle. I was taught early on to keep a dictionary handy so that I could apply meaning to new words.
I was taught the love of reading by my mother at the age of 3. It has stayed with me throughout the years, increasing in depth as I've expanded my horizons--and Tucson has been a wonderful place to expand my reading.
I hold an "Imani Appreciation Day" once a month, and inevitably, that day will include a run either to Bookmans on Speedway Boulevard, where I can find books old and new on any number of subjects, or Borders, where I can sit transfixed for hours before realizing it is closing time. I also love spending time at Antigone Books, where my thirst for feminist, women-spirited books is well-fed.
My all-time-favorite place to cruise for words on pages in Tucson is the Pima County Public Library--what a gift. If they don't have it, they can get it, and the librarians--particularly at the Murphy-Wilmot Branch--are always ready to assist above and beyond to help you find what you need. I start off with the new books, taking my time to slowly browse both sides of the rack: I cover everything fiction and then head around to the other side to hit the nonfiction.
Growing up, fiction always kept me busy; as I've gotten older, I'm more of truth-seeker on a mission to find out the how and why. Self-help and inspirational books stay on the tip of my tongue; I think of passing on titles as my charge in life. I enjoy turning people on to really good stuff that they can in turn pass on to others.
Biographies of some of my favorite people--and some of my least-favorite people as well--have afforded me insight into what made them tick. I think it's an honor to be able to get inside someone's head, for free, and with their permission.
If there are little ones in your life, know that nothing delights a child more than having someone take time out to read them a book of their choice. The same goes for seniors who are no longer able to make out the print in books as well as they did in years gone by. Take a moment with them to read a bit, and you will have a friend forever. Guaranteed. You may even learn something new.
My eyeglass prescription is changing again, and I spend time trying to figure out alternative ways to get my word fix if and when my eyes fail in the future. At the moment, audiobooks are not really my thing, so I may have to lose the vanity and get bifocals so I can continue my reading pleasure for as long as possible.
So thank you, Tucson, for offering so many cool spots for me to read 'til my heart is full.