I have always loved to read. I was one of those kids who would go to bed early, just to have the pleasure of reading in bed at night before falling asleep. And for those nights when I didn't manage to get some reading in, I'd sneak into my closet, turn on the light, and sit curled up with a book and a blanket hoping my parents wouldn't notice I wasn't in my bed.
The first time I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre at age 11, it was only in passing, as I looked up from the pages of Gone with the Wind. Scarlett O'Hara and her dimpled smile and scheming ways seemed much more intriguing than the Mona Lisa's smile.
And as we traveled throughout Europe in our little camper during my junior high years, I sat always on the bench seat in the back, tucked behind the table with a book. Didn't matter that I couldn't see out at all, I read the miles away. (Since having kids, I get ridiculously carsick--no more reading in the car for me!)
Later as high school graduation drew near, I remember driving across the country to look at colleges, sitting in the backseat of the rental car and reading my way--again--through all of the Anne of Green Gables books.
I think I associate lots of places with books.
A trip back to England for a visit in high school was all of the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum. (The movies are good, I agree. But they're nothing like the books. Go read them!)
Our first vacation after college was to Canon Beach, Oregon, and that was the trip of Generation X and Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland.
Murder mysteries tend to remind me of Palm Springs, and laying by the pool with my huge pregnant belly for days on end while Toben sat through meetings.
New Orleans one year was a new Harry Potter release--sitting on the plane and trying not to devour it too fast, knowing there would be hours to fill while Toben was busy working.
Clive Cussler novels and Dirk Pitt always make me think of Hilton Head--a trip with the whole family when Emma was a baby and still napping twice a day. I didn't leave the condo much--except to travel in my imagination to the Sahara, South America, and the North Pole.
Mom and Dad gave me my first set of the Chronicles of Naria when I was in second or third grade. That time, they were the ones to go on a trip. Kristen and I stayed with the Nordemans. I was young enough that I have random memories of the time at their house--the smell of Noxema, the feel of mud between my toes as we played in a big muddy pit, seeing Mom and Dad walk up to the house upon their return. The books were the surprise they brought back to me.
We read the books out loud after dinner every night. Mom and Dad would take turns reading as we sat around the table, dirty dishes forgotten, lost in a world of fauns and endless winter. Narnia became a very real place to me and I longed to step through a magic portal into another world like Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.
We read other books together as a family, I'm sure. But the Chronicles of Narnia are what I always think of when I think about families reading together.
They were the first "real" books I read to Audrey. And thinking about them now makes me wonder if it's time for a break from American Girl books and Boxcar Children. The leaves are beginning to change here and there, winter is just around the corner, and the snow is falling in Narnia... It might just be time for another visit.