"You will be a better mom because you are a theologian, and a better theologian because you are a mom."

Is it true? In this blog, I explore the interplay and intersection of motherhood and theologianhood.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Migrating Books

My husband often says that when you're an academic, books are the "tools of your trade." He doesn't just say this, either. He really believes it, as is indicated by the unbelievable amount of books crammed into our small two-bedroom apartment. I admit that I sometimes find the sheer quantity of books at our place a little cumbersome. On the other hand, one of my classmates told me of a study on children's reading where the only factor correlative to strong reading skills was the number of books in the child's home. If this is true, Maia will be an excellent reader.
(Above, Maia in the midst of Dad's reorganizing project in 2006)
Unfortunately, Maia seems to take after her dad when it comes to reshelving books after using them. Hence it is an unusual day when there are NOT books scattered on the floor, as well as every other available surface. Maia also absolutely loves to pull books off of my shelves, which are in the living room (Jeff's are in the second bedroom - when he reshelves them). The interesting thing is the way that the books seem to migrate from my shelves to hers. Perhaps even more interesting is that once the books end up on Maia's shelves, I tend to continue reshelving them to her shelves. St. Basil's On the Holy Spirit, for example, has been on Maia's shelves for about five months now and was joined just a few months ago by St. Athanasius's On the Incarnation. Merton's No Man is an Island was on Maia's shelves for a month or so, but I guess she didn't like that one. It ended up back where it belonged. (Above, Maia practices the presence of God by chewing on Brother Lawrence)
I have to admit that Maia's interaction with my books makes me a little nervous. Thank goodness she's beyond the chewing/gnawing stage. But she is into writing... and she sees her parents writing in books all the time, so it seems pretty normal to her. Anyway, Maia's book preferences seem to be continually shifting. For a long time she always went for St. Augustine's City of God. Jeff and I thought this to be a good sign. More recently, however, it's straight for Milbank's Theology and Social Theory, which, admittedly does have a nice shiny cover, perhaps more comprehensible than the text itself. Maia's other favorite at this time is my two-volume Tanner collection of the Ecumenical Councils. I only discovered this yesterday, but Jeff said she's been digging through them for at least two weeks now.
(Above, Maia with City of God - this is not a posed photo!)
The Tanner collection, I think, is taking Maia's exploration a little too far. Her Greek and Latin (not to mention her English) are way too weak to get a full appreciation of the value of the texts, not to mention their cost. And yet, ironically, it was in the midst of worrying about Maia looking at Tanner that I myself splashed a little coffee on Volume II. Alas!
(Above, Maia turns the Ecumenical Councils into a tower)
What's interesting about the migrating books in our apartment is that none of Maia's books ever seem to end up on our shelves or in our school bags. I keep waiting for the day when I show up to my Evangelical Historiography class with Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton and Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, while Maia stays with dad reading about the development and use of the Bible in the U.S. But so far, it hasn't happened. I guess that's a good thing.


Deb said...

Maia is building a broad foundation now, which will serve her well no matter how she eventually specializes. She can reach higher levels of understanding as she grows in height!

I read volumes of Grimm's Fairy Tales (the no-picture literal translations) as a kid and enjoyed them insofar as I could make sense of them.

Then I grew up, studied German, and re-read Rapunzel in the original. What a powerful story of the redemptive power of love! I definitely missed that meaning as a kid.

I suggest you throw a few folk tale collections into the mix.

Clara said...

Very cute! She's obviously off to a great start. However, I personally think it's true -- a child that grows up around books, seeing her parents read books, etc., is more likely to learn the joy of them herself.

I have a migrating book problem too, but it's just from the shelves in my office to the stand for my cookbooks. Sometimes while cooking I'll have a sudden urge to look something up, and at the next appropriate place (say, while waiting for something to boil) I'll grab the book I want. It sometimes ends up on the cookbook shelf for awhile after that. Mathew was a bit confused the other day when he asked if I knew where Aristotle's Politics might be, and I answered that it was on the cookbook shelf.