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You are either a reader of books, or you’re not. You might pick up a magazine now and then, or skim some article while waiting for the barber. You may be that young lifeguard years ago who told me, “No thanks, it’s the summer. I don’t read in the summer.” Meaning, if it’s not on his Fall reading list for school, it’s not happening. Reading became a chore somewhere along the way, and reading for pleasure an oxymoron.

As you already know, I’m a Reader. I like to read everywhere, especially on a beach. I can read on a train, a plane or even a boat. This type of reading makes Bob sick; if his body is in motion, he cannot read. I’ve been known to read while sitting on the floor next to a baby in a bathtub, though I couldn’t read while nursing. I’ve made some of the best friends through book clubs. So yesterday, I eagerly picked up the NYTimes article at the gym, “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books,” by the book critic Michiko Kakutani.

I really love reading on the bike, while everyone else is plugged into some TV or work-out music playlist. And I love Kafka’s quote on reading: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”

And what I took away from Obama’s love of books, is that books were a refuge for his childhood. He grew up a Black child in a White world, and even when his mother moved him back to Hawaii, he felt different because he had come from Indonesia. He always felt different. And I could relate to that, because I was the child with a different last name from my foster parents, I was the girl with flaming red hair who stood out in a crowd when I so wanted to blend in.

President Obama could time travel through books and find that all cultures touch on some of the same human conditions. And he learned to fit into whatever world he found himself in by reading about other people, that included Shakespeare, and forging his own unique identity. Because knowledge was portable in the form of a book…”from his peripatetic and sometimes lonely boyhood, when “these worlds that were portable” provided companionship, to his youth when they helped him to figure out who he was, what he thought and what was important.”

To this day, reading has remained an essential part of his daily life. He recently gave his daughter Malia a Kindle filled with books he wanted to share with her (including “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Golden Notebook” and “The Woman Warrior”). And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction.”                    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/books/obamas-secret-to-surviving-the-white-house-years-books.html?_r=0

I love the idea of a Kindle as a graduation present! We gave Great Grandma Ada one for her birthday once, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving – since every book she downloads, we pay for! She told me I must read “A Man Called Ove,” for fun and diversion, and I’m planning on it.

President Obama recently invited a number of authors to the White House, including Michael Chabon. I just finished his novel, “Moonglow,” which was mailed to me by my favorite place in Nashville, the One and Only Parnassus Bookstore, since Bob has signed me up to their First Editions Club. It’s a book of the month club for Literary Nerds like me. Moonglow is one of those books you never want to end, you savor the last pages, drawing them out over many nights. And it made me think about a new approach to the Flapper, because he was dealing with his grandfather’s hidden history. http://www.npr.org/2016/11/19/502581929/moonglow-shines-a-light-on-hidden-family-history

You see my Mother was a gun moll, who went to prison in the 1930s, and my book is very much about her. My writing is like taking an axe to my family history.

If I am arrested on Saturday, Bob swears he will bail me out, but if you don’t hear from me next week, I may just be reading in jail! Here I am reading Emily Dickinson during lunch:   “I have no life but this to lead it here.”

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Yesterday was Kale Day, but today is the official national book reading day for millions of children in libraries, homes and schools all across the country, and the idea is that we’ll all be reading one book. Well, you could read more than one, but doesn’t everybody love a tractor?

The book for Jumpstart’s 2013 Read for the Record campaign is Otis! Published by Penguin and written by New York Times bestselling author Loren Long, Otis is the timeless story of a friendship between a lovable tractor and a calf that live on a farm. On October 3, 2013 children and adults will come together to read Otis as part of Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation’s Read for the Record campaign.

I packed a box full of toys and books for the Love Bug’s arrival. And her parents brought her favorite books with them as well. I’m even working on a children’s book inspired by the Bug, so here’s a little clue:County Fair 009

We started reading early to the Bride and Rocker, almost as soon as they could sit semi-steadily on our laps. And I’m happy to see the tradition continues. I found a beautifully illustrated book, I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman. It’s about how we parents would always see through any animal disguise in pretend play, and recognize our beloved child.

And while talking all things literary today, let’s jump ahead to the next book on my list. I cannot wait to dig into Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, The Signature of All Things. I follow this author on Twitter so I was aware of its release date, then I caught her on the Today Show and later heard her interview on NPR.

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/01/225719994/fghfgh

The heroine is a botanist in the early 19th Century, who travels to Tahiti and discovers herself, along with “…varietals of vanilla pods; a sky-high waterspout; abolition…” and so much more, including a bit of Victorian pornography. Gilbert’s book, Committed, helped the Bride and many of her friends in their understanding of modern marriage. So I had to smile when Gilbert said she married a man who believes a wife belongs in the kitchen…”with her feet up and a glass of wine, watching her husband cook dinner.”

We read around here for the love it, to escape and be challenged, to learn and to laugh. For the record, ebooks, podcasts and iPads have their place, but in my life, nothing will replace the feel of a real book in my hands!  photo

 

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