An Ode to My Love of Books

Is it just me, or do any other 90’s kids still dream of being Belle, the book-loving princess? One of the defining moments of Beauty & The Beast had to be watching her slide across a bookshelf on a ladder.

I’ve always loved books! However, my relationship with them has been sad and complicated at times. As a child who was often alone, books were a source of comfort for me from a young age. I vividly remember the excitement I had in 2nd grade of Elementary School when I was given special permission to check out books from the Chapter Book section reserved just for 3rd – 5th graders. Then kids started saying things – just like Belle, I was odd because I was reading so much. I then went through a phase during High School when I thought the smell of books was “gross,” so for a while I read only digital books. Growing up in Houston, I’m sure the less than pleasant smell was probably mildew/mold from the humidity the old copies of classroom-set novels were kept in.

I rediscovered my love of books with gusto when I started my parenting journey. I knew I wanted to parent my children differently than the way I was parented… but where would I start?! Where else? Books! And with the newly invited iPad, I was able to enjoy so many digital versions of parenting books. I also knew I wanted my children to love books and reading unapologetically, so I needed to fully embrace the book nerd that had been buried deep down.

Just the other day, our neighbor gifted my 5-year-old a book because “we thought of them while reading this book – and thought y’all would love it too!” Which just bursted my heart with joy and appreciation. It was actually a book we had purchased my oldest was first born. That first copy had been well-loved, was missing the accessories, and was actually lost in the abyss of toys and books in our home. I snuggled up with my 5-year-old to read the new copy, and recalled so many past memories from when I read the same book with my first baby twelve years ago…

So many moments when I felt unsure of myself, and unsure of whether I was doing a good job, came flooding back. These worries were short-lived as I was taken on a trip down memory lane, full of happy memories and sweet moments with my little ones. Snuggling a chubby baby with milk breath (and then sometimes a not so clean diaper!), I knew then that reading together was the most important thing. The dirty dishes, laundry, and insecure feelings could all wait. Oh the memories…

When my next two babies were born, I had a few weeks postpartum to read a few more parenting or self help books as I enjoyed those sweet newborn snuggles. By then I had gotten into a groove and read more of my children’s books with them. We started to get a nice collection of books too! I was always happy to have a book gifted for a birthday or holiday instead of a loud battery-operated toy.

We regularly attended a Story Time before my oldest started Kindergarten. We’d even meet up with friends at Story Time – it really is a great gathering spot for littles & their families. Many of the local bookshops and libraries have weekly Story Times, and I’d highly recommend checking one out if you have preschool-age children.

I rarely had the time or energy to read something just for me – that is, that was not related to my kids or parenting – with three children under the age of 7. That all changed when my youngest baby (now 5 years old) was born 6 weeks premature. While I was on bed rest for a few days, followed by a further 10 Days in the NICU, the stack of books in my “to read” pile were there waiting for me. Like an old friend you haven’t seen in years, I was able to pick up a physical book and feel the same comfort and joy I had when I was a child. This was a turning point: now my fourth baby was born, I was determined to make more of an effort to read both with my kids and for myself.

I started documenting how many books I’d read on my social media accounts. It was nice to have little discussions with friends about these titles and books in general on these posts. To my surprise, I’d also get some amazing book recommendations from friends. Over these past five years, my love for books has been expressed through a combination of physical books and digital titles. I have purchased about half the books I’ve read, and checked out the other half from my local library – with a few books gifted from friends in there too.

I will freely admit that I’ve tried to join different book clubs and it has never worked out for me. While I know that book clubs provide great opportunities for people to find a community and their commitment to reading, it is absolutely OK to read on your own!

If you are not familiar with the San Antonio Public Libraries check out this post! They are an incredible resource for families and individuals in the Alamo City.

Did you know there is a local book festival? The San Antonio Book Festival will be held on Saturday April 13th at the Central Library & UTSA Southwest Campus! The festival is FREE and open to all ages. There will be nearly 100 national, regional and local authors there; with 66 sessions for guests to attend. Click here for a list of all the sessions at the 12th Annual San Antonio Book Festival, there is truly something for everyone.

photo of a standing flyer for the San Antonio Book Festival 2024
I was so pumped to see this display at my local SAPL Location! Have you noticed one at your favorite library or book spot around town?

My children and I are all excited to attend the SA Book Festival this year! We can literally spend hours at the library and in our favorite bookshops, so I am sure we will be there making the most of the event, either talking or reading books. If you see us, say hi!

To those parents who are feeling that they have no time to read: you can make time for yourself to snuggle with a book. Even if it is just a page or two a day, a chapter per week or even every month. You can do it! There are no late fees with San Antonio Public Libraries, so you can take all the time you need to finish a good book. Audiobooks also totally count as reading, and are the perfect way to make the most of your school run or carpool line. There is an extensive collection of audiobooks available through SAPL, a wonderful change that came about after Covid.

two adults sitting on a couch reading with two dogs between them.
Thankful for this moment to not only read without total child chaos, but also with my partner and our first [furr] babies!
Speaking of the pandemic, I want to take a moment to reflect that many people across the world had a similar moment of rediscovery of their love of books four years ago. That collective experience was and will always be profound for so many of us. Then and now, we reach for books to help us solve or understand something challenging – while other times we just want something lighthearted to escape to. There are so many feelings and emotions that draw us to books, and they are all valid and worthy. There are so many genres of books, from old classics to new bestsellers – I’m pretty confident to say that there really is something for everyone in the wonderful world of books.

Ashley Mazzanti
As an ambitious & passionate Scorpio, Ashley loves many things and loves them with all she has. Parenting has been a transformative experience for Ashley and continues to evolve as her children - Jameson (2011), Josiah (2013), Jove (2015) & Jane (2018) enter, exist & exit different ages & stages. She is thankful to have her college sweetheart (Tim), 2 dogs, 2 cats by her side for comfort, support & encouragement during life's adventures. San Antonio has been home for Ashley since 2005 when she moved to attend UTSA (C/O 2009). Ashley is an Independent Travel Advisor and volunteers with local & national level non-profits. Activism, coffee, dancing, Disney, plants, Star Wars, tattoos, and yoga are all life long passionate loves for Ashley. You can find Ashley enjoying a treat at Plantyful Sweets, exploring our gorgeous local parks & Botanical Gardens, or cheering on the UTSA Roadrunner Football Team at the Alamodome.