Library of the soul (book read in August)
We all have a story. Mine includes where I was born, how I spent a lot of holidays as a child on the road, when I went to school, how I spent the majority of weekends in the library…
You can find pieces of a person’s soul in their story.
For example, I will always be able to find a little piece of my soul on the open road and I probably lost a medium-ish piece in school. But then, the largest piece, that one lies in the library.
The specific library of my childhood isn’t there anymore, having been replaced by a mall and a theatre, but to a person’s soul it doesn’t matter where in space and time those pieces are lying because in memory they will always still be accessible. Pieces of me will always be locked the memories of the dirty-blue carpet that scratched your knees to bits if you knelt on it to access the bottom shelf, the characteristic smell of the reference section and the dark bay windows looking out into a back garden I was always too socially anxious to visit.
Fragments of who I had been in the past lie in specific books. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Merlin Conspiracy…
And The Wishsong of Shannara.
I’ve spoken about my mission to reread this whole series before. I’m still casually busy with that and at the moment seem to be reading them out of order. So when I picked this book off the shelf at the beginning of August, I thought I knew what fragments of my past it held.
- It was the very first Shannara book I read. (Yes, I know it’s the third in the series. I wasn’t really aware of it then.) It was the gateway to what I’m essentially still busy with.
- It was the book in my bag when I was on a roadtrip in Germany with my family when I was 15. I never really got a chance to read much but still. Wishsong was the book by my side when I was doing all of these things that I will probably never do ever again. It was new back then. Now it’s pretty battered.
And yet Wishsong held one more fragment of my past than I knew about. The other day when I opened the book, it revealed itself.
The light fell just right on the very first page and I could see the shadows of lines on the page. When I looked closer I could see that it was the impressions of a pencil pressing through a page and leaving dents on the paper below. And when I tried to make out what the lines formed, I could see it was words in my handwriting.
The first two are Taciturn and Kine.
The last word I can’t quite make out. I think it’s meant to be Effusive, but if it is I definitely spelled it wrong.
I’d completely forgotten that I used to do this.
When I was a teenager I went through a very intense period of language-learning and I used to keep a paper and pen by me to write down words I didn’t understand while I was reading. Later I would then go look up those words in the dictionary and in this way I would expand my vocabulary.
At the age of 15 I had no clue what career I wanted. However, if I’d known then what to look for maybe I could already have seen who I would become – a language editor. Of course my language-learning process is still ongoing and always will be. In fact, just the other day, I learned the word “bedeviled”. I had not known this was a real word until I looked it up, believing it was a typo. But I hardly ever have to look up a word while reading any more. I’ve passed beyond that stage and had nearly forgotten my old habit.
It was a lovely experience rediscovering that old fragment of my soul. It was the reminder that my career choices did not suddenly spring into existence at age 18. They’ve really been there all along.
Tell me in the comments, which books are part of your soul library?