Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I come from a family of readers. As far back as I can remember, there were books—not very many, but there were always books. My mother had been a one-room country school teacher before she got married, so she must have decided ‘mama didn’t want no illiterate children.’

The picture shows my mother reading to us kids on a Saturday night—maybe around 1951 or 1952. As you can see, being read to evidently gave us headaches as we all had to have our little heads tied up in bandanas. (Actually, the bandanas held rows of bobby-pinned curls in place so we would have pretty hair for church on Sunday. We were a very wholesome family.)

In elementary school, we had a large bookshelf in the back of the classroom. When we were done with our work, we had permission to read library books. I think I read every book on the shelves including every single Laura Ingalls Wilder book, all the Bobsey Twins books, and any Nancy Drew book I could lay my hands on. I think I read most of them twice. When I ran out of books to read, I remember just making up stories and telling them to whomever would listen.

Way back on September 21, 2008, I put together a list of books I planned to read, and I am happy to report that I have almost read my way through the list! I’ve read a couple of Donna Tartt’s books (Secret History and The Little Friend). I’ve already written about some of the books I read: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (Barbara Kingsolver), Bel Canto (Patchett), Geek Love (Dunn), and Maus (Speigelman).

Three of the books I had planned to read were MIA. The library’s computer tells me that life isn’t always easy on the shelves either. Me Talk Pretty One Day (Sedaris) is always checked out and has a waiting list (even books have stressful, busy lives). And Same Kind of Different (Hall & Moore) is a victim of battered-book syndrome and is currently in the repair shop. A book I wanted to read by Peter Straub (Ghost) was reported as missing or stolen from the bookmobile, so I have visions of its current life on the run, living out of a car, perhaps hidden under a pile of fast-food wrappers.

I’ve read some very strange books including Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (Moore), The Quality of Life Report (Daum), Magic Terror (Straub), Life of Pi (Martel), and Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Pessl).

I’ve read some interesting non-fiction books: The Worst Hard Time (Egan), Little Heathens (Kalish), Freakonomics (Levitt and Dubner), Reading Lolita in Tehran (Nafisi), and Three Cups of Tea (Mortenson).

And I’ve read a couple of books that really made me stop and think: The Road (McCarthy), Blindness (Saramago), and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Safran). I’ve currently got A People’s History of the U.S. (Zinn) and plan to read it on the way to Arizona.

I’m currently working on my new reading list because that makes it easier to decide what to read next in a world where 57 million books are published every minute. Maybe the list will include A Hope in the Unseen (Suskind), A Long Way Gone (Beah), Breakfast of Champions (Vonnegut), For One More Day (Alborn), Odd Girl Out (Simmons) . . . Oh, my gosh! So many books, so little time. I might have to start reading faster.


Elaine said...

Ok, now I am sitting here being totally envious about all you have read, are reading, and plan to read. I kept your prior reading "to-do" list for suggestions for myself for books, and am still working from it. At one time, I read a book a day. . .and I had kids, and a job! Now, I have some type of persistent disorder which involves working all the time, and I have somehow dropped off the reading charts. We have a really cute little library in Galt and can access everything in Sacramento County, but here's Elaine. . .working all the time and never taking time to read. Well, I will update my list with these recent suggestions, but first I have to work. Have you read Kabul Beauty School?

2to4aday said...

I haven't read Kabul Beauty School, but it looks intriguing. It's going on my list! Thanks for the suggestion.

bd said...

Love those old pictures:-) and what discipline you have to read...too many things to do in life!

Anonymous said...


I'm shocked, you didn't mention Stephanie Plum.

I know you read it.


2to4aday said...

It's true: I am a secret Janet Evanovich reader with Stephanie Plum, sassy girl bounty hunter, as the lead character. I only read them because somebody kept leaving them on my desk at work. <:O

Evanovich books are like chocolate; not much food value, but I can't leave them alone. Morelli? Ranger? Who will Stephanie Plum finally end up with?

Anonymous said...

Vonnegut? That has me somewhat excited. We'll have to discuss Vonnegut some time. He happens to be my favorite author. I also happen to own a first print hardback copy of Breakfast of Champions. My favorite Vonnegut books: Cats Cradle and Player Piano. I'd like to know how you feel about the guy and his writing. Very intriguing indeed.