I've just finished reading a very satisfying book by Lewis Buzbee called The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. In light of my recent review of The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future, it was especially nice to read a book that celebrates all the good feelings that come with facing down an entire bookstore and choosing something out of all the inventory available to be YOUR book, and later, opening the pages of that book to savor the contents.
When Buzbee began talking about what really made him become the voracious reader he is, it struck a chord with me. He said that rereading a book can take a reader back to where he or she first experienced that book in such a way: "I was ____ years old when I happened on a novel called _____, and within six months I had read every other book by the writer known as ____." As he also mentioned, he can most times remember his surroundings when he read a particular book.
For me, I was 20 years old when I read As I Lay Dying. I was in my sophomore dorm room on the yellow futon and I read all afternoon each day that week while my roommate was in class. That is how I knew I was completely hooked by 20th century American literature. I was 21 and in a course on Shakespeare's comedies and histories when I put on a crown with streamers and read the part of Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream in Meredith College's pre-renovated Joyner Hall. I was 16 and in my junior English class, listening to my teacher read out every word of the first chapter of The Catcher in the Rye. Each of these times, and many more, I knew I was really cut out to be a reader.
And, if I pick up The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop and read through it again years from now, I hope I will remember where I was when I read it: in a rocking chair on the front porch of a beach house while the sun went down for two nights in a row. My favorite place.