Before he passed away this past June, author Ray Bradbury dictated the introduction to the 2012 volume of The Best American Nonrequired Reading, a brief essay that would turn out to be his final piece of writing. Appropriately, it’s a love letter to books and the worlds that are opened up by reading.
The Huffington Post has excerpted the introduction, which starts in the place where Bradbury’s love affair with books began: the public library.
When I was seven years old, I started going to the library and I took out ten books a week. The librarian looked at me and asked, “What are you doing?”
I said, “What do you mean?”
And she said, “You can’t possibly read all of those before they are due back.”
I said, “Yes, I can.”
And I came back the next week for ten more books.
In doing so, I told that librarian, politely, to get out of my way and let me happen. That’s what books do. They are the building blocks, the DNA, if you will, of you.
Think of everything you have ever read, everything you have ever learned from holding a book in your hands and how that knowledge shaped you and made you who you are today.
Looking back now on all those years, to when I first discovered books at the library, I see that I was simply falling in love. Day, after day, after glorious day, I was falling in love with books.