Certain members of my family have an addiction. It was inherited from my parents and seems to be catching, because some of the in-laws have it too. It’s not a bad obsession, although we have our share of those, but it’s as expensive as the other kind. We are readers.
Magazines and newspapers were always in my home, growing up, and all of us read every chance we got. My mom fostered my custom of reading in bed, and we have both been known to burn the biscuits because we were reading while dinner cooked. Mom belonged to the Book of the Month Club and there were books stacked in corners, on the few shelves we had, and sometimes under beds. We lived for the mailman’s visit because we got books from the State Library Commission.
I’ve always felt rich if there were unread books in the house. Some people say they never re-read a book, but I’ve read most every volume in our house at least twice. Of late, I’ve made a rule. For every book I buy, I have to give one away. That tends to slow me down because I hate to think of not re-reading something I really liked. The bag sales at libraries and used book stores were made for people like me. Why not just check out books? Because I read with a pen in hand and underline significant passages.
As an author, I know it’s kind of cheating to lend books because it cuts down on sales, but when book shopping with a friend I’ve been heard to say, “Don’t buy that one, I’ll lend you my copy.”
One of my granddaughters, who is a teacher and has a large personal library, is requiring her students to read. She has filled shelves in her classroom with many of her own titles and makes students choose a book and read it. A real book. Not one on Kindle, or their phones. This is new for many folks, and it can’t help but broaden their view of life as it once was. Maybe some of them will become reading addicts too. Of course, a lot of students resist, so she has been known to respond, “Pick a book, or I’ll pick one for you.”
One of my grandsons must have had a teacher with similar views. As a sixth grader, he wanted to give a book report on “All the Light We Cannot See,” which is the story of a blind girl who was part of the resistance in Paris during World War Two. The teacher said it didn’t count because he listened on an audio book. I get her point, but wonder how many sixth graders even wanted to read that sort of book, and shouldn’t they be rewarded for it?
Book clubs seem to be thriving so maybe people are coming to realize there is life beyond electronics. Or else readers just need to talk about their favorite books. You know, like horse people, who can’t seem to talk about anything but bloodlines and awards. They are boring, and probably we are too, but let me tell you about the latest Leif Enger book I just read, it’s his best yet…