Just as reading was the salvation of my lonely youth, it is my reprieve from the January blues. I have often used reading as a reward. As a young mother living in our big old house in Indiana, I would get my boys off to school, set a timer and clean for an hour. I would then read for an hour, repeating the process until I could simply read. Now I use reading as solace for my winter doldrums. Since our little apartment doesn’t need as much attention as our old Victorian, I no longer need to set a timer, I just tidy up after Mr. Smith has left for work and then I dive into my current guilty pleasure.
This December, I finished reading Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove as part of My Three Son’s book group. I read it years ago with my Indiana book group, but I found I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. My son Elliot was taken with the friendship between Call and Gus. They were friends, no stipulations, no questions asked, noting that friends like that can be hard to find. Our next read is The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. Mr. Smith has been devouring many of Ondaatje’s books and recommended this one about the adventures of three adolescent boys traveling alone who meet on a ship crossing the Indian Ocean bound for England in the 1950s.
Last week I read Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. Her character, May Attaway, is a forty-year old woman who sets out to explore friendships in the digital age. She is employed as a gardener for a university and the book is full of fascinating information about trees. May is an introvert, more comfortable with plants than people, leading her to lean heavily on Emily Post. When I started it, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to bond with the protagonist, but like Alana Masad in her NPR review, I ended up loving May and I’m glad I stayed with it until the end.
Presently, I’m reading Anna Quindlen’s How Reading Changed My Life. My girl crush on Ms. Quindlen was validated when I read about her mother trying to chase her outside with “It’s a beautiful day,” when she only wanted to curl up in her favorite chair, lost in a book. I was delighted with Ms. Quindlen’s adamant belief that despite computers and e-readers, print books are here to stay. Admitting that while reading lists “…are arbitrary and capricious…”, she acknowledged that she loves them and ends the book with several different lists. Lonesome Dove appears on her “10 Big Thick Wonderful Books That Could Take You a Whole Summer to Read (but Aren’t Beach Books)” list. I did come away with two more titles for my reading list: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence.
My library card is one of my dearest possessions. I was over the moon when we were living in New York and snail mail brought me my library card from the New York Public Library. Anyone who lives, works, attends school, or pays property taxes in New York State is eligible. The card gives you access to millions of materials, resources and services. And you get a really cool card! I no longer live in New York, but I still receive an email every morning with a Book of the Day recommendation.
Mr. Smith and I have lived in many different states. I have gone through many different library cards, but they have all been my key, opening the door to the joys of intriguing stories and new adventures. I hope this will continue as long as I love books – in other words – forever.
I am simply a ‘book drunkard’. Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotees. I cannot withstand them.L. M. Montgomery
C’est la vie.