I can still remember the first time I paid for a book.
There is (or was) a small teacher’s supply store somewhere in Utah with a wire book rack full of classics: Black Beauty, Robinson Crusoe, and the like. My mom was purchasing some supplies for our homeschool co-op.
Now, if you’ve ever shopped with a teacher or a homeschooling parent in a teacher’s supply store, you know it can take a very. long. time. Think of how long it takes a hunter to shop at Cabela’s and you’ll have a general idea. With time on my hands, I started perusing the books. (This was back before cell phones for kids was a thing.)
Robinson Crusoe? Already read it. Tarzan? Nope. Swiss Family Robinson? Too close too Robinson Crusoe.
Then an intriguing paperback’s cover caught my eye. A giant squid, reaching its tentacles towards some sort of submarine.
Glancing at the title, I started reading. My nose enjoyed the distinct smell of a newly opened book. The plot was a little slow at first, something about a French professor and narwhals. Still more interesting than cardstock and “educational” games, though.
By the time my mom was ready to check out, I’d reached chapter two and was being introduced to Captain Nemo. A mixture of genius, maniac and revolutionary (with a dash of tragic/murderous background), he and his Nautilus caught me hook, line and sinker. His motto, Mobilis in Mobili, was temporarily my own.
Five minutes later, I’d purchased my first book. My book–bought with my hard earned cash, and worth every penny.
Once in a while I pick up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea again, and Captain Nemo escorts me across the wonders of aquatic creation.
Mobilis in Mobili. Latin for (more or less) “mobility in a mobile element.” That’s what a good book is: the mobility of imagination diving through the sea of written words.
To quote Captain Nemo: “There I recognize no master! There I am free!”