Monthly Archives: June 2014

I’m Reading in the Rain!

I won’t borrow a book from you. If you absolutely, positively insist, I’ll accept your book and take it home. Once home, I’ll stash it somewhere until I can get my own copy. Then I’ll return yours. Why? Because I love to destroy books.

That’s putting it too strongly. What I mean is this:  If I love a book, it shows. Spaghetti sauce stains. Cocoa dust. Bits of paper tucked in here and there. I read while I cook, while I eat, and while I shower. That’s right. In. The. Shower. I am an all-terrain reader.

Home Cooking

In college, I took a one-day class on book restoration. It was fascinating. I loved to handle the old books with their embossed leather bindings and gilded edges. They were beautiful and worthy of painstaking preservation. They would not, however, lend themselves to my habit of of reading-while-doing.

I think kids need books they can destroy. Books that can be chewed, scribbled in, left outside, loved. They need books that belong to them. If books are always owned by someone else–an adult, a school, a library–the reader is compelled to think of the preservation of the object as well as the enjoyment of the content. That’s okay sometimes. It’s not okay all the time.

Take it from me, the shower reader. Let your kids take their books in the rain, under the sprinkler, into the tub. Books are durable. A dousing of water won’t hurt and usually improves them. The book will dry out and the ruffled pages will be even easier to read.

Enjoy the day.



Long Live The Also-Reads!

Some people prefer to focus on one book at a time. I like to have a few going. I generally have The Book, a new one that’s my primary read, and an assortment of also-reads. Also-reads are books I’ve read and enjoyed before or books that are rollicking reading romps. I trust them and look to them for pure literary pleasure.

My big-B Book at the moment is Tara Sullivan’s GOLDEN BOY. It’s about a Tanzanian boy with albinism named Habo. Because of his unusual coloration, Habo’s life is in mortal danger. Peddlers of magical charms are after his skin, hair, and other body parts to sell to those looking to ward off evil and acquire luck. This book is in turns gripping and horrifying. I’m about halfway through.

My also-read is Susan Branch’s newest, entitled A FINE ROMANCE–FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE. It is a delight, full of all the things I love. Travel, England, Beatrix Potter, Jane Austen, tea, scones, and gobs and gobs of clotted cream. Like all of her works, it’s a beautiful book,  handwritten and adorned with tiny, pretty watercolors. It even has a red ribbon bookmark. What more could I want?

Summer is a great time for also-reads. I encourage you to leave books lying around. Old favorites. New and exciting temptations. Leave them where they can be sampled, nibbled, savored for a minute or an hour. Leave them in the bathroom, next to the kitchen sink, near the laundry waiting to be folded. There is always time to read, if there is something to read close at hand. If you have to look, you’ll likely to find something other than a book that will catch your attention.

This summer, it’s time for me to dip into Elizabeth Wein’s brilliant CODE NAME VERITY again. I expect I’ll also give Erin Dionne’s MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING another go. Of course, there is always my very favorite, Anna Sewall’s masterful Victorian guilt trip, BLACK BEAUTY. That one’s never far from me.

As for parents who wish to cultivate well-read children, they should valiantly resist the urge to tuck books away on shelves. Out of sight and hard to find? Almost surely out of mind.

Enjoy the day.