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SPIRIT MATTERS: The magical world of books

When I think about what material item it would be hard for me to live without, the answer is easy.


I can back this up by saying that whenever I get in the mood to do a purge of my collection and let old books go, I immediately begin to restock.

I am currently in the middle of one of those restocking periods, ordering way more books than I will ever have time to read.

I would feel bad about this and wonder if this condition I have required medical attention, except I know I am not alone in this habit.

My family will tell you when we go to Bloomington for the day, a must stop along the way is Barnes and Noble. The bookstore opened there in 1995, when I lived in the Twin Cities and I have spent many a day and night haunting the stacks of that most glorious place.

I never, ever get tired of having that book store experience, or for that matter a library experience.

I have also been a member on Amazon since 2008. The website keeps a record of what you have ordered through the years and how much you have spent on those items.

Let me just say: I don’t even want to know.

As one of millions of people obsessed with books, I believe we have a common goal: a thirst for knowledge, excitement, transformation, imagination and being transported to other worlds we can scarcely conceive of in our own minds.

To me, a book’s beauty lies in the fact that its purpose is both tangible and intangible.

Picture it: you are curled up comfy on the couch with a blanket, and maybe a cup of coffee or tea, a book of your favorite genre in your hand, an object with a front and back cover and varying number of pages in the middle.

Most people who prefer actual books to electronic forms of reading, cite the “experience” of a book for their preference. The look, the scent, the “feel” of it in the reader’s hands as they open it, begin reading, turn the pages and become lost in a world that only you and the author and the story itself share at that moment.

It is quite an intimate experience, really.

For two minds, two hearts, two souls to connect across time and space.

And what is really wondrous about it, as any writer will tell you, is how when you let go into the world what you have written, the plot or the message takes on a life of its own.

The author can write with a particular intent in mind, but when it gets into the hands of any individual reader, it mingles with the reader’s own personal history, experience, imagination and understanding of the world.

In the end, what was originally one piece of work, becomes multitudes.

As a writer and a reader, I might take books a little more seriously than the average person on the street, and I am okay with that.

To me, just the thought of all of this can be intoxicating when all the stars line up and make for a magical experience right here in the midst of everyday life in the heart of Illinois.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.

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