Karina is addicted to books. This is her story.

{Read it from the beginning by clicking here.}

It’s been a week since Karina stepped foot outside, and with no one interrupting her routine, she has felt absolutely peaceful. Such is the wonderful nature of winter break.

Her only friends live on the shelves, and it’s high time she made them all at home. Karina cuts open boxes and piles books on the floor. She places Goodnight Moon on the bottom shelf toward the left, then follows it with Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Guess How Much I Love You.

As she shelves picture books she smiles. Since before she can remember, these have been her greatest treasures. Somehow, even as a toddler she never thought to teethe on or tear the books her grandmother sent to her. Dad doesn’t much care for books, so it doesn’t come from him.

She frowns at The Pokey Little Puppy, remembering the pages marked by the little boy who was supposed to be her friend. No real friend would ever treat her treasures like he did. She never spoke to him again after he betrayed her trust and chose her friends carefully from that day forward.

Chapter books follow picture books as the shelf fills. Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, and the Little House series. Then the books get thicker … Little Women and Black Beauty. Stand-alone books break up the blocks of matching series spines. The sight of the full shelves relaxes her shoulders.

Karina considers how these books had led her on a journey from the prairies of the American West to the mountains of Middle Earth and back again. She read the new books as grandmother sent them and revisited the old in between. With how much time she could spend reading, even a new book every month wasn’t enough to keep her busy, so she reread her favorites, and with every rereading she discovered something new.

Some of the titles tempt her to abandon her task and dive into the old stories, but she will not leave this half-finished. To appease the seducing whispers, she leaves them half pulled out as she shelves them, so that the covers can peek at her.

By lunchtime they are all in order. She revisits the books most eager to be read and pulls five from their places. She stacks four on the table by her bed and takes The Hobbit with her into the kitchen; she’ll begin reading it while eating a sandwich.

Reading while eating is a nice sort of distraction. Bland food isn’t bothersome, and staleness goes unnoticed that way.

Today’s sandwich is alright, but she only notices the first bite. After that she is more interested in devouring the words on the page than the peanut butter on the bread.