The Homestead Library (What We Read on the Farm)

“Books are the terra firma of oral storytelling. They are the rooted trunks of letters, journals, diaries, and keepsake boxes. They are the depositories of history and legend. They are keepers of the records.”

c e hollis

Libraries closed during the Covid epidemic. It was a hardship for book lovers. Yet, while living on a farm far from the door of the local library, out on a country road, away from book shops and book fairs I have collected up books I need.

I have many books that I love and cherish. Some I have written the whole or parts of and it is exciting to have them in print. Some are written by my sister and some by writer friends.

I have always been a book lover. I used to read all the books our two room country school in Michigan owned. My graded readers were almost memorized. Some of those books contained nauseatingly boring stories. I read them anyway. I loved best the literature style readers that contained stories from famous classic books.

I begged to be taken to the public library in Manistee where I chose my prizes by titles, illustrations, and scent. A good book smells good probably an old ink and paper combo smell. I never chose glossy covers. I chose old, worn copies. I still think those are some of the best.

In the summer I was up early to walk to the schoolyard to wait for the big blue bookmobile. My only grief besides the infrequency of visits was the limit of two books per child. Torture! No child who loves words should be deprived of books. Mama bought us a set of encyclopedias and Kent and I spent many happy hours in them.

We are dependent on our farmhouse library not only for entertainment with story books, picture books for the kids, cookbooks and hobby books, memoirs, and westerns, but also for education, research, and information. I shelf many books on the skill of writing. We use reference books, nature books and nature guides, photography textbooks, Bibles, hymnals, and Christian living books, Chilton mechanics manuals, encyclopedias, historical texts and biographies of great men and women. Our books keep close at hand classic literature volumes, poetry, art collections, novels and wonderful old books of all types.

Ron reads less but often looks things up in his manuals on mechanics, cattle care and orchard maintenance. He reads his Bible through and starts over in Genesis––again and again. I love real life stories of survival of the human spirit. These inspire me. I love to cook, photograph and know about nature so I have many nature guides, cookbooks and photography books. I collect art books. I love to look at magazines and gift books.

Our farm has grown and we must keep learning. We have no lack of books for grandchildren of all ages here. When kids visit as many are running and exploring the fields and the creek, climbing hay bales, and working at farm chores as you may find curled up on the daybed, the rocker recliner chair, or the porch swing with a book.

This farmhouse may be different from others if you measure the sheer number of books to be found, but all homes and every farmhouse needs books.

“ A place where books are found is never a dreary lonely place. A place with books is a happy place.”

c e hollis

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