Monday, December 6, 2010

We Are What We Read

Our neighborhood book club met this week to party.  We ate homemade toffee, we drank lots of wine, we left our children with our husbands, and we didn't even pretend to discuss a book. 

I don't think I'm alone in attending a book club primarily for purposes of socialization with grown-ups (and a night out of the house!).  As one of my neighbors once said, a person could sell filing cabinets and we would come.  I am, of course, a reader by nature, and I love a good debate (ask my husband).  However, I am also a very slow reader with severely limited time and am easily put off by books that seem too depressing, too showoffy, too unbelievable, too trite...  in other words, much of what seems to be popular book club fare. 

The idea that books bind us, though, is an irresistable one to me.  It is a theme to which I return over and over in my own writing.  A few weeks ago I met a little girl at church named Lavender and couldn't wait to press a copy of Love, Ruby Lavender into her hands.  I've loaned and re-loaned All-of-A-Kind Family and The Westing Game and the complete Bobbsey Twins dozens of times, and the thought of sharing these books with my daughter someday literally gives me shivers. 

I'm supposed to be blogging today about five books that have made me who I am.  Well, anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with me probably already knows.  The way my mom passes down family recipes, I pass along reading recommendations. 
Books are a way to keep connections alive, through time, through space, through generations.   A dear friend walked several blocks in Manhattan on Friday with 51 pounds (!) of books on her back and in hand so that she could send this bounty to my avid-reader father.  These novels belonged to her beloved husband, Roger Newman, who died earlier this year. When the first batch of books arrived (yes, there were more), my husband and I both found ourselves rather reverently touching the pages that touched Rog's hands and, of course, his heart.  Rog was a writer, a man of eminently good taste, keen mind, and huge heart.  We were privileged to know him, and we are honored to be the keepers of these treasured mementos.

--Jeanne Marie



Martha W. said...

My older brother gave me All-of-a-Kind Family when I was nine for Christmas. It came in a boxed set of books. Having never seen a boxed set of books before, I was so delighted. For years after that, my sister would hide buttons for me whenever I dusted, just like they did in that story! Come to think of it, I could use some buttons hid around the house today to motivate me to dust once more! :)

Caroline McAlister said...

Growing up I did not share books with best friends, but my kids do. Their closest friends are great readers and they pass around their favorites and talk about them together, so they really are bound together by books. It gives me great hope for the future.

Caroline McAlister

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Caroline, what a lovely comment. Thank you.

And Mrs. Weingarten, thanks for the vivid recollection of the wonderful button scene. How did I never know you were a fellow fan?

BJ Schneider said...

A little girl named Lavender...that should get a story started! I wonder if she's as delicate as her name or just the opposite.

And what a great gift your friend sent for your father.