My family makes these cream cheese cookies during the holidays that my grandmother used to make. I know the moment they start to bake, the memory of my grandmother making them will hit, but I still somehow can't mentally prepare myself for the sensory memory that happens when I smell those cookies. It's like they are the magical key to a door that transports me through time and my grandmother is there and the cookies are baking and she's singing a funny made up song. Sometimes I can't tell what I love more about the cookies...the way they taste or the way the memories feel when they flood my heart the moment I smell those cookies.
Books do something similar. There are books that take me back the same way...magical keys to a secret portal back to my childhood. I remember details of my childhood room tied to those stories...the clock and the sound of it ticking, the shelves, the stuffed animals on my bed. They are all part of the memories that come racing back when I revisit certain childhood book friends.
Recently, I was waiting for a new release book I ordered to arrive and the anticipation triggered this memory of being in preschool. My preschool was in a library (yes, it was amazing), and we would go upstairs into the children's section to listen to stories being read aloud. While I waited for the book, something about the book anticipation made me remember all of it...climbing the stairs, the door into the children's section, sitting in the read-aloud room listening to books. I remembered details I haven't thought of in years.
Then there are the newer bookish memories...the books I've read to my children and the memories tied to them. The ones they loved, the ones we did funny voices for the characters, the ones that rhymed and sounded like a song, the ones they memorized because we read them so much. But it isn't simply about living in the past. The books I read today are tied to new memories that will someday be "remember when." Earlier this year, I brought home a copy of The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The book got passed around my family, everyone laughing out loud as they read it. Recently I've been recommending it to friends, and each time I say the title I remember each person in my family insisting to the next person that it was the funniest book that had to be read.
Sometimes books take us out of our world and into someplace entirely different, but sometimes they tie us to our world more than we realize. The line between the book and our world kind of blurs. We become part of the book, and our world becomes part of the experience of reading the book. Revisiting a beloved book takes me into two worlds...the world inside those pages and the world I remember from previous readings. They connect me to the story, and they connect me to some wonderful memories.