Dr. Jackson

Christmas shopping recommendations are coming in sooner and sooner, and I suppose with supply chains backed up, there is some benefit to thinking about Christmas early. This article is inspired by those Christmas shopping recommendations but is a little bit different.

I love books. Books of all sorts and sizes. Books for grownups and books for kids. Today, I thought I would review some of my favorite book-related things.

1. Library. It is great to have a local library that can help us keep our brains thinking about interesting ideas, places and people. I appreciate having online catalogs these days so that I can figure out which books I am interested in picking up before I even go. Sometimes my kids want to grab things that are not appropriate for them, yet. By looking up books beforehand, I can get a good sense of the reading level required as well as if the content fits with what the kids are learning in school, or an upcoming holiday or whatever.

2. Thrift stores/used book stores/thriftbooks. Sometimes there are books that you just need to own. I feel that way about Goodnight Moon, and The Monster at the End of This Book, as well as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. You will have your own sets of books that need to be personal. But, they don’t have to be new. I love buying used books because a.) they are cheaper and b.) I can sometimes find some out-of-print books that are still beautiful and fascinating. Local book and thrift stores can have really interesting books if you don’t mind taking the time to browse. And thriftbooks is a website I have had good luck with when I wanted a specific used book (there are other used book sites, too, I have just enjoyed this one as giving a pretty accurate description of the book’s condition).

3. Audiobooks/Librivox. Librivox is a free app (it does have ads so parents beware if your child is click-happy) where volunteers have recorded public domain books. The quality of the recording and of the speaker can be variable, but especially for the popular classics, more than one person may have recorded it, so you can choose which voice you enjoy. There are some great classic books on there, and a decent selection of children’s books, fairy tales, etc. You can also get audio books through your local library, and I have had situations where I thought the narrator in librivox was more engaging than the library version, and vice versa.

4. Commonplace book. Back in the good old days, people couldn’t take screenshots of their favorite quotes to save for later. They had to write them down. A commonplace book was the journal or notebook that people would use to jot down their favorite quotations or readings that they were enjoying at that time. I confess, I am terrible at keeping a diary, but I started a commonplace book this summer and I have been able to use it to good effect. I don’t push myself to write something in it every time I read, but if a passage particularly strikes me, or a turn of phrase is just too lovely, I can keep the commonplace book close to my bed or reading chair and jot it down. I may never look at it again, but then again, I might.

Have fun with your physical book collection and the collection of books you keep in your heart. Be flexible, be smart and be patient. You can do this.

Katie Jackson, M.D., is a pediatrician at Utica Park Clinic Claremore.

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