It all Started with One Small Bookcase

Val MillsStarred Page By Val Mills, 25th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

An addiction to book ownership and a love of written words on the page have shaped the person I am today. It all started with in childhood, when my parents were wise enough to buy books for me.

Just a small bookcase

It all started with a small bookcase, just inside my bedroom door. It was a very basic bookcase, given to me by my parents once my collection of books reached a stage of needing to be organised in one place. Nothing much to look at, this small piece of furniture was my pride and joy. It sat between the old wooden wardrobe and the door as if it had always been there.
Having two shelves, there was initially plenty of space, but somehow, like Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin, that collection of books just kept on growing. By the end of childhood days both shelves were crammed and books sat perched on the top as well.

A growing collection of books

At first I could proudly say all the books were mine, but eventually my younger sister's books were added to the shelves. Not that she was ever as passionate about books as I was.
All kinds of books, all fiction, filled those bookcase shelves. Starting with alphabet books and nursery rhymes, to picture books of the easiest kind, followed by more advanced picture books, eventually chapter books joined the ranks and showed I had definitely graduated and become a lifelong reader with a hunger for words. My parents, especially my father, encouraged my passion for books and reading.

Organising the books

There soon came a time, probably after I'd received my first library card and was able to borrow books from the library, when the books demanded to be organised.
This started with simple beginnings, showing an early awareness of of developing stages of reading ability.
Alphabet and picture books were allocated to the top shelf, along with my prized collection of Enid Blyton's Noddy books.
Chapter books sat proudly on the bottom, starting with the easy ones at the left and moving across to the more difficult on the right. My addiction to Enid Blyton continued, with the Secret Seven at the left, followed by the Famous Five. On the far right were the more complicated books, such as Little Women, What Katy Did, Black Beauty and Children of the New Forest.
Looking back now, I can see the beginning awareness of the reading process where, in the English language anyway, words and sentences are read for left to right.

It is what you read

A quote from Oscar Wilde sums it all up nicely for me. "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help yourself."
Those books planted tiny seeds of future directions. The first childhood career I thrust myself into was that of teacher. At the beginning I'd line my few tattered dolls and teddy bears up on the bed or the floor, and read to them and pretend to teach them their alphabet. They were eventually joined by a magnificent soft, fluffy, blue rabbit, belonging to my little sister. As my sister became older, she too was lined up to listen to the magic that the books had within their covers.
The next stage in my career development was to become a librarian. Once I'd started organising my books, I soon wanted to be even more systematic. The bottom shelf especially was arranged with the authors in alphabetical order, so that I could automatically find any book I wanted. To be truthful, I knew every book on those shelves so well I hardly needed a system to be able to locate them.
Finally, I felt as if my book collection had become a library. I laboriously made borrowing cards with numbers, where borrowers for each book could be recorded.
I was sure I was destined to become a librarian, until a few years later, once old enough to appreciate the existence of boys in the world, my father pointed out that all the librarians at our local library were single women, or spinsters as they were knwn in those days.That was the end of my librarian dream. I became a teacher instead and was never disappointed in my choice.

Always a reader, never a writer

Having reached the stage on my life where I'm constantly looking back and reflecting on my childhood, there is one revelation I'm surprised at. I was always a reader, but never a writer.
I loved to read and devoured every book I could lay my hands on. Not only did I love to read, but I had to own my books. I don't remember ever being moved to write books of my own back in my childhood though.

The overflowing book shelves of adulthood

My whole life has been filled with book ownership, often getting out of control. Before we moved to our current home we lived in an older house, where I had six book shelves, filled to capacity. These sadly had to be culled when we moved, being able to keep only enough to fill two shelves.
Those two shelves have multiplied to four, joined by piles of books in every room. These days I don't have as much money to spend on books, so I buy more cautiously often making second hand purchases.
I look back now, and thank my parents for the wonderful love of books and words my parents gifted to me in childhood, all starting with that one small bookcase.
In the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, born 106 BC,
"A room without books is like a body without a soul."

More writing by the same author:
Depriving Children of Childhood Storybook Characters from the Past
Book Ownership can become Addictive
A Penny Worth of Sweets - A Snippet of 1950s Life
Meccanno Sets and Hornby Trains Weren't Just For Boys


1950S, Becoming A Reader, Book Ownership, Books, Childhood, Enid Blyton, Families, Librarian, Memoir, Picture Books, Reading, Teacher

Meet the author

author avatar Val Mills
Self-published writer, coffee drinker, enjoying life. Also found at and

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author avatar Val Mills
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks again for speed of publication and Star, Steve.

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author avatar michiedoll
25th Apr 2012 (#)

I love books. Two weeks ago, I tried writing and I'm starting to love it also. Hope I can be a good writer also.

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author avatar Val Mills
25th Apr 2012 (#)

You're going well so far michiedoll

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author avatar Carol
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Great article Val. I love book s too, nothing can replace them

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author avatar Tess Irons
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks for sharing, Val. I enjoyed reading this article.

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author avatar David Reinstein,LCSW
25th Apr 2012 (#)

It all started with as small piece of parchment and I remain devoted to paper books.... Love the feel, smell and being that expect electronic books will never really replace -at least, I hope not :-}

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
26th Apr 2012 (#)

Morning shows the day- is probably the right words for you. Nice story and thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Apr 2012 (#)

Reading nourishes the soul, mind and the brain. There is no substitute for it despite modern multimedia. Thanks for taking me back to my childhood, Val. Mine is also a mirror image of yours except the organization part of the books! - siva

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author avatar Delicia Powers
26th Apr 2012 (#)

My husband loves the physical book also,and has a Kindle only at my is not the same as having that beloved hard cover- and the feel of each page turning- but the books where indeed taking over our house...LOL...wonderful article Val thank you:0)

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author avatar Buzz
26th Apr 2012 (#)

It was my mother who taught me to read before I entered school. In fact, I never learned anything after I It was the books I bought and collected through the years and was more interested in that shaped me.:-)

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
26th Apr 2012 (#)

I also love books. And I have been collecting books from my childhood days. Thank you Val, for the nice article.

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author avatar Christine Crowley
26th Apr 2012 (#)

I have a wonderful collection of books - and I love them all!

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author avatar Hickory Cottage
26th Apr 2012 (#)

You just described me! Love your story.

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author avatar Songbird B
16th Feb 2013 (#)

I learned my love of books at my local Library and it started a love affair that has never ended..What a pleasure to read and reminisce Val..

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