Prior to '63, there were only two occasions I remember when I enjoyed reading. The first, when my godmother sent me Ramona, Little Women, and Beautiful Joe for my 12th birthday. The second, in high school when I presented a less than flattering or
sympathetic character study of Mr. Rochester and earned the seldom heard compliments of my stern and critical senior English teacher, Sister Stephen.
I did read some excellent books in college, but I still hadn't become hooked on reading. Then, in June l963, I moved, as a newlywed, to California. A young teacher, I had my first summer off. Knew no one. Lived in a small apartment requiring little maintenance. Had only one car, a VW bug that my young husband needed for work. What was a girl to do? Read.
And did I read!! Every weekend we would go to the library and select at least 7 new books. I read Steinbeck, Maughm, Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle. I reread lit selections because I wanted to, not because they were assigned. I sat by the pool and I inhaled books.
My favorite that summer? Cannery Row.
Over the years, I developed my own library. Novels, of course. Non-fiction for career development. Self-help and inspiration that got me through a painful divorce and a battle with breast cancer. Struggled at times to read a book a week, on a good week two.
Until this summer. Although much has changed since '63 - I have my own car, a larger home that requires greater maintenance, other interests (have discovered drawing, for one) and a husband who enjoys my company, I am also retired. I have a couple shelves of books I haven't read, a Kindle Fire loaded with a few more, and lists of recommendations from two book clubs. So, though I'm not at a book a day, I can head out to the courtyard chaise with a glass of iced tea (or red wine) and any one of the four I do manage to read each week. I can disappear into the wonderful world of new ideas, fascinating characters, distant times and landscapes - and fond memories of a young woman falling in love with reading that summer of '63.