Books have helped define Carolyn's life and they are the focus of her essay for KUHF's This I Believe.
"I believe books are the ultimate time machines. Like other dedicated readers, I experience the transporting and time-stretching power of a good read. But while borrowed books are a ticking clock, the books we buy create the illusion that we will have, sooner or later, the time to read them.
As a graduate student and full-time teacher, I frequented used books stores and library sales. Realistically, I had no time for the books I carted home. But I wanted, in the midst of grading essays and reading required texts, to make the time to sit on the deck and read, at my leisure and choosing.
The situation didn't improve after graduation. My husband, a notoriously light packer, is fond of telling me that one bag is traveling, two is carrying luggage and three is hauling cargo. Still, vacation comes and I stack up the books, believing, that if I have those mysteries, best sellers and anticipated new releases, the holiday will stretch to accommodate.
Lately, I've noticed littered around my bookcase, books, new and used, that I have been buying for retirement. The problem isn't just my intention to move to a smaller house and the space they will require. I also realized that this hording of unread books flies in the face of another family shibboleth, 'death on the tarmac.'
Growing up, I had a friend whose father worked in the city and only returned home on alternate weekends. As compensation for this absenteeism, he promised his wife that as soon as he retired they would board a plane and spend a year in Europe. You see where this is leading, don't you? My family vowed never to postpone what we really want for fear of dropping dead on the proverbial tarmac just short of the goal.
Of course, time machines don't, they can't, work. Still, I do fear becoming my crazy uncle, whose living space constantly shrank with his growing collection of books. Hence the dilemma, if books can't create time, I will never have the time to read them all before I die. I can only hope that Jorge Luis Borges was right and Paradise really is a 'kind of library.' This, I believe."