When the five-minute call – ‘We’re closing the book fair for today!’ – comes, I normally go into overdrive. Quickly I empty my red fabric book bag (a long-term favourite for this occasion: it can be draped across to free BOTH hands for browsing) and scan the loot: what to keep, what to discard? This year time has run out and I have to trust my selection without a second look.

Filled with a wonderful sense of pleasure and joy I drive home and park the book bag for the evening. I believe that books need natural light for inspection and true appreciation, particularly picture books. So not until the next day, Saturday, after housework and other chores completed, the moment of reveal has arrived. I empty the book bag’s rewards on a clean kitchen bench and make three piles of books: one for work, one for myself, one for my husband Wiel. First things first. I lightly clean each cover and sides with a damp cloth (and additional antiseptic wipe in Covid-times) to remove stains, dirty fingers and dust.  

I marvel over the picture books and comics I scored for work. I make a point of reading each book first before it lands in the waiting room, to ensure that it is in a reasonable condition and has appropriate content. Jordan Watson’s How to Dad, Vol. 2 is so typical Kiwi: a father illustrating in pictures and words what parenting is really all about, or not. Hilarious! Next I smile over some cute picture books and move to the Christmas themed books. I love providing our waiting room (not before December though) with a variety of Christmassy books for big and small. I have a weakness for old fashioned style pictures and Christopher discovers a secret and The night before Christmas (a Golden Book) make me glow inside and starry-eyed.

Wiel’s books end up in the bookcase without further ado. It’s not that I am not interested, and they too get a clean-over, but let’s get to the really good stuff!

That’s my pile, you see! The few novels I bought are placed in full view in the bookcase in the living room. I read almost everything I purchase or receive (although it can take weeks, months or years) but you, as an avid reader, know that your mood has a big say in dictating what kind of story or genre you need at a given point in time.

I lovingly stroke the picture books (nobody is watching). I’ll read them later, in daylight, when the time is right. And that’s right now! I laugh with Daniel Kirk’s story of Sam, the Library mouse (impossible to resist such title) and the cute books Sam produces for library visitors. And then, the gentle drawings by Tomie dePaola in Four stories for four seasons. I recognised his name from Quiet, a wonderful picture book about mindfulness he produced in 2018.

The rest of the books are patiently waiting their turn. Each time I’ll pick one up and settle down for reading, I’ll be smiling. I am in the best place one can be.

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