Got Snow? Got a Book

There is a snow storm (now called a snow event) coming and the newscasts are filled with reporters out on the streets and in the grocery stores. People are stocking up on supplies in case they can’t get out of their homes for a week or so. Schools are closed, offices are sending people home, and there is the predictable run on milk, bread, eggs and toilet paper.

Having grown up in a time when school rarely closed for weather and people learned to cope with it, drive in it, and clear it away, I often feel like a fish out of water once I moved to the mid-Atlantic area (though I think this weather hype is a national thing) . I still show up for events and meetings  that have been cancelled, though I now check my email with greater frequency when there is precipitation and/or freezing temperatures. I don’t worry about not having ample supplies. Not only do I not have to entertain children who have the day off from school. I assume I’ll be able to figure out how to cope with out an essential for a day or two. And I now live in a city neighborhood where I can walk to pick up critical items if I truly need to do that. Even if the plow doesn’t get to my street for a few days (which happened a few years back when we had back to back snow storms in February), I can walk to get what I need.    

I worry about not having a good book to read.

My love for reading started when I went to school. My mother didn’t teach us to read at home. With three small children and a husband who was a traveling salesman with a nine state territory, she assumed the school would take care of our education.

When I got to first grade, my teacher pointed to words on the bulletin board and asked if anyone knew what they said. The kid next to me raised his hand and said “Look, look, look. Look and see me.” I was astonished! How did he know that?

A reader was born.

Two months later I was reading at a level beyond what a typical first grade was willing to handle. Every day I walked down to a 6th grade classroom and sat with kids I would never interact with at any other time, so that I could develop my reading skills. They didn’t seem to mind and I didn’t care.

Books are laced through my life:

Each year in elementary school I contracted a two week long, mandated bed-rest illness: pneumonia, double pneumonia and bronchial pneumonia. I read Heidi, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, The Happy Hollisters, Mary Poppins, The Brothers Grimm,  Johnny Tremain, Charlotte’s Web, and Stuart Little.

I walked the 8 blocks to the library once a week with my friends and took out the maximum number of books allowed (10).  I read the Freddy the Detective Series, Nancy Drew,   Huckleberry Finn, The Diary of Ann Frank, The Wind in the Willows, and the Wizard of Oz series. I graduated to Ogden Nash and Richard Wright, 1984, Lord of the Flies, and Flowers for Algernon.

I read what my father read so we could discuss the book when he was home. The Word by Irving Wallace, a story of the discovery a new gospel by Jesus’ younger brother, took me a summer to read but remains  one of my favorites because of the time I spent with my Dad talking about it.  I read every Robert Ludlum book – (though at some point I was confused about which was which except for The Bourne Identity and the Materese Circle. I read Exodus, books by Michener, and autobiographies by Charlie Chaplin, Helen Keller, and Harpo Marx.

I read Shakespeare for school and magazines for insight. I read the newspaper. I read Gone with the Wind before seeing the movie (and even at 4 hours, was dismayed at how much had been cut out of the book!)

I majored in English as an undergraduate because I thought it would help me understand a variety of different people.  Each semester I immersed myself in the classes I took:  17th Century poetry, the great romantics, the Jewish American novel,  D.H. Lawrence – it didn’t matter what it was; I wanted to understand more about the story, the characters, the author, and the author’s message. And when you have to read 10 novels for each of three you can start to read faster, which I did.  

Today I participate in book clubs – though they are more like the consciousness raising groups of the early 70’s with better food  and not  solely focused on a book discussion. I post my reviews on www.goodreads.com both to recommend and to remember what I’ve read.  I have favorite authors and read book reviews but I’ll also pluck something from a shelf because of an intriguing book flap write up. I now stop reading a book down after 100 pages if I can’t bear it – no matter how enthusiastic the recommendation. And I rarely post bad reviews unless it’s really been a poor experience. I invite you to join and follow me.  I use both my e-reader/kindle/IPad and my local library. It’s nice to have options.

As the flurries add up to inches (how many actually fall remain to be seen) and people hunker down in their homes to watch out the window and listen to the weather heads, I am relieved and pleased to have two books to spend time with. No mindless games on the internet (though I like those too) and no channel surfing (luckily I am all caught up on my favorites).  

 I can’t do much about the weather, but I’m not worried. reader

Well, I worry the bad weather will last longer than it takes me to read the books I have. But I can download a new one. And if I lose power I can walk to the library.

So I’m fine.

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