Some years ago, my daughter was experiencing a difficult time in her life. One activity that always gave her comfort was reading. Her high school had a mandatory daily reading break when everyone from the Principal to the students, teachers and even the kitchen and grounds staff were required to read. All offices on campus would close, and phones were left unanswered for the duration of this reading period.

During one of these sessions, my daughter was reading One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, the first book in a series that I had recently discovered and thought she might enjoy.

Across the aisle from her sat a girl she did not know. However, when this student noticed what my teen was reading, she very enthusiastically introduced herself and started a conversation about the book. Soon they became close friends, often sharing and swapping books with each other.

Sometime later, I had the opportunity to visit and meet her friend’s family. Now our family was far from prosperous, but we weren’t hurting, either. Through conversations with both girls I knew that the friend came from a very large, very low income family.

I met her girlfriend’s family, and was immediately struck not by the number of children in the room or the modesty of the home, but by the collection of books that this family owned! Every surface held stacks of books; every wall had simple built-in bookcases, crowded with reading material. Every person in the family was either looking at or reading a book.

When I mentioned how envious I was of their vast book collection, the girl’s father opened the door to the attic (actually more of a large crawl space — SoCal does not have many traditional attics), and pointed out the bookshelves lining the attic walls. I was dumbfounded! I had never seen so many books in one place outside a library or a bookstore!

It was obvious that reading was a prized pastime in this family. It was also then that I realized that collecting books can be an affordable hobby. And I’m not talking about collecting first editions or rare books. Books did not have to be purchased through or a bookstore. Books could be picked up very economically at garage sales, thrift shops, library or estate sales, or at used bookstores. They could be passed on from sibling to sibling, friend to friend, home to home. If a person wanted to read and be entertained badly enough, tight finances would accommodate this hobby. This family did not have a lot of extras in the home, but they made reading a priority.

For this reader, Collection Day has a new meaning.

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