A Castle Filled with Stories

Over the past couple of years that we’ve been blogging, Britt Skrabenek and I have had an ongoing conversation about life, books, harsh winters, and those cute cats of hers.

Britt is an indie author and just published her third novel, Nola, Fran, Evie, which I know will be as good as her first two (I bought my copy last week and will be reading it this weekend; I can’t wait!).  You can check it out here:




As Britt has shared so many wonderful memories of reading with me, I asked her if she would be willing to write about one for my blog. Luckily for us, she agreed. Here it is:



© Britt Skrabenek

When I was a young girl, there was always one guarantee. Any time my mom and I passed a bookstore or a library…we were going in.

If we were on a tight schedule my duty was to distract my mom from any come-hither covers in the windows. I would block her view, drag her along, or point at something random in the opposite direction and pretend like it was the most fascinating thing in the world.

The rare times my mom didn’t have a book within reach, it was simply weird. Books cheerfully littered the house—the kitchen, the floor, the car—you name it.

Her love for the written word was contagious and there is no doubt in my mind that becoming a writer was no accident for me.

Earlier this year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. On a whim I flew across the country to be with her when she received her test results.

I hadn’t seen her in almost four years.

Being with her during this time suddenly reversed our mother/daughter roles. It was my turn to soothe her, to be strong for her, to give her whatever she needed without hesitation.

A rather poignant childhood memory resurfaced as I huddled with my mom in that cramped exam room. It seemed like hours as we waited for the doc to bring the news. It was probably only a handful of minutes.

Languidly the thick sterile scents and unforgiving florescent lights faded away. A younger version of me and my mom were exploring the rooms of our favorite library of all, Huntington Library in Southern California.

The intoxicating smell of musty books blanketed our fears, comforting us effortlessly. We were surrounded with the richness of love.

This library is like a castle filled with stories. The reader turns into royalty with the power to go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone. It’s damn magical.

I was an adventurous child who used to wander off a lot.

Whenever I got separated from my mom in the grocery store, I would panic and cry. I would peer desperately around every endcap of candy, cookies, and canned goods, trying to find my mom pushing the shopping cart.

Getting lost in the library was so different. I was never scared…I felt safe.

I’m not sure how to explain it, but it was as if the books were there to protect me. They were my brave knights, lined up neatly side by side.

Strange how that was the one thing running through my mind in the exam room that afternoon. Then the doctor marched in and broke the spell with her authoritative demeanor and gave us the test results.

My mom lucked out with Stage 1. Since then, though it hasn’t been easy, she has recovered beautifully.

I like to think that the books had something to do with it.


You can find Britt’s blog here: brittskrabenek.com