I have a confession to make: I have a love/hate relationship with shoes.
Mostly, I love just going barefoot. But in the winter, or walking across gravel, or grass with sandspurs, it’s nice to have some foot protection–otherwise known as shoes.
When I was a kid, May 1 was the first official day to go barefoot. It was also my birthday, so that worked just fine for me. Otherwise, I wore flip-flops as often as possible, even when riding my bicycle. In the old days, flip-flops cost about 29 cents at the dime store. Obviously, these were not expensive shoes, but even so, my mother despaired as I blew out pair after pair when I got them caught in the spokes of my bike wheels.
My mother blamed my shoe obsession on her mother–my grandmother– who apparently loved to shop, especially for shoes and hats. Even so, she would often meet us at the door in her bare feet. She must, indeed, be the one I got it from!
Over the years, I have purchased many pairs of shoes: from slip-ons to sandals to high heels to hiking boots, and nearly every kind of footwear in between. The problem is, I seldom find a pair that I really, really like. To put it another way, I like them but they don’t like me.
As I’ve grown older, the price of my shoes has gotten higher and the heels lower. My everyday favorites at the moment are Birkenstock (see photo below) and Keen brands, of which I have several pairs in different colors. It’s the closest thing I can find to being barefoot. But I’m still looking.
You may have guessed I also like reading books about shoes and shoemakers. And of course, your Fontana Regional Library has many to choose from.
In the children’s section, we find the ever-popular nursery rhyme One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. I still hate shoes with buckles! But there are lots of other children’s books to choose from. Titles include Dancing Shoes, Circus Shoes, Whose Shoes?, Ballet Shoes and Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, for example.
Following that, you may find, in the adult section, The Seductive Shoe: four centuries of fashion footwear. Can you imagine? Four hundred years of trying to find the right footwear. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been looking that long.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of good novels about shoes and footwear. Here are some of my favorite reads:
The Shoe Queen is a twentieth-century romance about love and shoes. Or is that love of shoes? Read it yourself and find out.
If you prefer Italian American history, try Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine, followed by Brava, Valentine. And her latest novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, will provide a similar reading experience. I learned a lot about how shoes are made, and dream of one day owning a pair of custom-made shoes!
Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for the perfect pair of shoes. So…what’s on your feet?