Posted on March 17th, 2016
Why I Read
The first book I remember in my life was a giant one that held a story of a woman with a red kerchief who was turned into a woodpecker because she couldn’t make a pie she thought was small enough to give away to a hungry stranger. So many decades later this story and its illustrations are still alive for me, as are many of the books of my childhood, when Friday nights would often find me under my covers with a flashlight, reading until far past my 8:30pm bedtime. As a kid, books connected me to worlds and ideas far beyond my daily experience, my vocabulary surging with words I understood but had never heard and so could not pronounce. Books were my preview of how I might behave, where I might go, what I might become in a world I was just discovering.
These days I find the role of books and of reading in my life has changed. The responsibilities of life and marriage and kids and school and running a business have limited the time and attention for many things, reading for pleasure among them. One thing that keeps on is the group of 12 women with whom I have been reading for nearly 20 years. It’s one book a month, eight months a year. We spend June choosing the list for the coming year and we take it seriously. But really we are in it less for the books themselves than for each other. Through the books and the discussions in our regular coming together we hold on to our connection to one another even as life and its busy-ness push us apart. When I was little, my books were my friends, connecting me to the world. Now books are little worlds that help me connect to my friends.