As a child I was a voracious reader, so much so, I can remember my father being concerned I read TOO much (I think he envisioned a very mousy, bun-coiffed librarian who peered over granny glasses constantly “shushing” the children). One of my favorite winter memories is sitting on top of the floor heating grates in our house, swaddled in a scratchy, woolen, rose-colored blanket, a slowly-melting bowl of chocolate ice cream in hand, with a new Nancy Drew in my lap. I’m smiling as I write this because I can still see and smell and feel and almost taste this recollection. Oh, and I was partially hidden because this cozy spot was behind a chair in a corner of our den.

How much do I love that my daughter is much the same? I often say she’s never met a book she didn’t like, and she has read hundreds of thousands of pages, I really don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Barely into her teen years, she has an over 200-volume library, and she’s fastidious about their care (ummm, I’m doing my best to ensure she doesn’t become anal or o/c about this…so far, so good). (Warning: gushing mom alert) She broke the Accelerated Reader record at her school, earning over 750 points; and get this, she didn’t even test on everything she read because she “didn’t need to”. We don’t share the same concern my father did because she does have other interests, and as she gets older, school and those interests demand more of her time.

But, gee, this post isn’t about her, lol, guess that’s me in typical form–digressing.

Since I’m digressing, I have to say, I LOVELOVELOVE MaryEngelbreit’s art, featured here. With a stroke of her brush, she captures the affections and passions of those souls who are truly friends with their books.

Somewhere along the way, I guess during my college years, “reading to learn” took precedence over reading for pleasure. Except for the trashy summer novels I devoured, which were probably limited anyway, due to the trashy magazines which occupied time and space. And then I graduated and started working…got married…continued working…and had babies. In the midst of all that, I think I just gave up. I still managed a summer read or two, and maybe about the same number over the course of the rest of the year. I really don’t remember why. Maybe it was back to “reading to learn”…you know, all those parenting resources available to us. Oh, yeah, and there were the Bible studies. Guess all that IS “reading”, even good and worthy, but it’s just not the same. If you’re a blogger, you like the written word as much as I do, so I’m sure y’all know what I mean.

Since we moved to 10-afreakin-C, let’s just say there weren’t as many demands on my time. I guess in large part because I was no longer juggling three very-part-time jobs (two of which involved writing), my children were older, therefore more self-sufficient, and I guess the biggie, I didn’t have a life here yet.

And slowly, it occurred to me I had the time to read again. At first, I kind of felt guilty about it, like I should be doing something else (ummm, some of the time, I SHOULDA been doing something else). But, wow…after having gone without it for so long, I sooo appreciate it now. Something simple, taken for granted, but rediscovered and now viewed in a different light.

A big surprise has been my newfound enjoyment of non-fiction. Perhaps because I don’t have to read it, I’m able to relish it. Another HUGE unexpected turn (and DELIGHT) has been the husband’s developing interest in reading. HE is the guy who prided himself in NEVER taking a book home his senior year in highschool, and still making all A’s (I think….). Reading the newspaper or Sports Illustrated was about as long as his attention span would allow. Now, one of our favorite outings as a family is to hit Barnes & Noble, settle in with a CARAMEL MACHIATO and something new (or new to us, anyway)! Tad has actually begun to recognize the authors who borrow from each other ;).

Our Kiawah trip was great in part because I started–and FINISHED–three books: one fiction, one non-fiction and a biography. That, in addition to reading the gospels of Mark and John (and part of Luke…my “plan” was to read all four), several chapters in Love and Respect and beginning Raising a Modern-Day Knight. A lot of the reading time was in the car, it is a seven-hour ride 🙂 (thanks to Tad for not seeming to mind me not talking quite so much 😀).

Gotta close with a mini-review of Father Joe, can’t believe I’ve let it sit on the shelf for close to two years! An old friend convincingly recommended it back then, and when I saw it at our favorite used bookstore for four bucks, it was mine! But, because it wasn’t the only find that day, it went to the bottom of the stack. It caught my eye again when I was making my beach selections…and…wow…I’m glad it did.

Can you visualize sitting down for a meal just because it was time to eat, and as you took the first bite, you realized you were absolutely and unexpectedly ravenous…and on top of that, you weren’t just eating chicken du jour, instead there was a banquet before you overflowing with every delicacy imaginable…? THAT, was Father Joe. I devoured it but wish I had taken time to savor it. Author Tony Hendra is a brilliant writer; this is a guy who won a partial scholarship to Cambridge by “accident”. By page 28, there were so many words I didn’t know, I started writing them down. Forty-eight of them (I mean really, carapace? alacrity? plastial? scrofulous? sozzled? morganatic? meretricious? abattoir? hehe, I made up one in the list just so I could bamboozle the highbrows who claim to know ’em all–without cheating, can you pick the word that’s not a word?).

The thing is, the prose rolled off of Hendra’s pen like mercury in your palm, smoothly and beautifully, and the fact I didn’t know every tenth word didn’t matter. His was a moving tribute to Joseph Warrillow, a Benedictine monk who altered the course of his life. Father Joe was Love Incarnate; he was the kind of “Christian” I’d like to be. Hendra’s power of recall demonstrate the effect of their relationship in his life, Joe’s words brought hope and healing to a wounded soul. The power was not in Father Joe’s words, it was vested in Joe’s own love and devotion to God, which seeped out and covered those in Joe’s presence. Tony Hendra’s lifestyle, sometimes more so than others, would be easy for some to condemn; through the eyes of Father Joe his is a poignant story of love and redemption. I joined them with tears in my own eyes as they offered what both knew would be their final good-byes.

Man, it was good…and as I look back up at ME’s poster, I agree with her–“A book IS a present you can open again and again”.

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