The Love of Books: Old First E-pistle 08.21.14

The Love of Books:  Old First E-pistle 08.21.14

(While away, I asked for guest E-pistle-ists. 3 people came forward, all newer members in our community, who surely not all of you will know {we will add their photos to help in that regard}.

Each offers an interesting “academic background” for writing an E-pistle. (Not that academic credentials are needed, but it is interesting that it happened this way!);

08.14: Richard Hurst studied at the Unitarian Universalists’ Meadville Lombard Seminary, associated with the University of Chicago.

08.21: Barbara G. is a student of the New Life Bible Institute at Beulah Baptist Church.

08.28: Michael Johnson just finished his B.A. in Philosophy at Temple and is looking towards undertaking a Ph.D., but theological concerns are never far for him.

Be sure and read their contributions today (below) and over the next two weeks. And Michael C. is grateful for their effort and help. –MC)

My love of books began when I was child.  I was raised in a  home with my father, mother and little brother.  We looked like the perfect family from the outside, but inside was another story. My brother and I were abused as children, and my escape from this was to read books.

I remember reading the books that my father brought home from work and realized that he must have never checked the titles or content because the subjects were often very racy!  He gave me the books because he knew I loved to read, and I would escape to another place or be able to live another life when I had my head in a book.

In the living room on the bookcase were my two favorite books, a set of encyclopedias and an old medical book from World War II.  I would sit on the sofa and take out the encyclopedia, open a page and find out amazing information.  The medical book kept my attention as I choose to read up on this or that disease or illness.  I would look at the pictures and remedies to cure whatever my illness of the day.

I was not allowed to go outside and play with other children so, I would sit quietly (noise was not tolerated in my home) and be with ‘my friends,’ otherwise known as the books I so enjoyed!

As an adult, I worked for the Free Library of Philadelphia.  This was a perfect job for me because I was able to see all the new titles.  My husband, who just passed away this week, was also a book lover.  Together we frequented book stores to hunt for books that became a part of our own library.  Anytime I had extra money I would buy books.  We have so many books we ran out of room.  It is possible to have too many books?

After I retired, I started volunteering for Books Through Bars.  This organization is a non-profit that provides books and other services for indigent prisoners.  With the knowledge I gained from working in the library for 36 years, I knew I was going to be able to help in some way.

My main job is entering information from prisoners’ letters into a computer database.  The letters request dictionaries, law books, business books, science and math books and other sorts of non-fiction topics.  The organization relies on donations… and the majority of the prisoners’ requests can not be granted because the books are not in Books Through Bars’  library.

In these letters requesting books, inmates often share their own stories. And they are always appreciative of the organization and whatever books we can offer.  Each request is different, but almost every letter offers a prayer for the organization and expresses how much the writer needs books in order to escape prison life. Many of the letters are heart breaking and often make me cry.

One inmate wrote explaining that he had written three times requesting a Chinese/American dictionary.  He was surprised, but understood, when he found out the Books Through Bars was not a bookstore, but a non-profit organization that relied on donations. Another inmate wrote saying that he had been in solitary confinement for 20 years, and he loved the Miami Dolphins and really wanted a book on the team.  I was personally able to fill these two requests by purchasing these books for the inmates myself.

I have family and friends who have been incarcerated. I also know how it feels to be trapped and unable to leave.  The least I could do was make someone feel loved and give them the opportunity to escape by reading a book.

God has given me the opportunity to be able to help.  It is only through Him that I am able to do anything, for myself or others.  It is in God that I can translate my own life into service to others. ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13)

See you in church,

Barbara G.