She'd come next-door at the cottage on a summer morning and ask if I wanted to do something: swimming, running around á la wild mustangs, making miniature ballrooms in the field, catching rabbits.
From disappointing my running buddy, I quickly went on to wreck my eyesight (Or maybe not, nearly everyone in my extended family was nearsighted.) from hunching over a book in poor light. And boy, did the books help my high school social rep --!
Bibliophile. Bibliophage. Dear Reader. Freaky four-eyes book-worm. Whatevs.
Before my eighteenth birthday I got myself set for a four-year reading sabbatical that shaped the rest of my days.
Some years I read less, but mostly I read a lot. Quickly.
I go heavy on novels, light on memoirs. I snack on essays and take sparse sips of poetry. I almost never read biographies. (That 5th-grade assignment on Betsy Ross <shudder>)
Generalized history gets a pass, but I do like specific topics (The Black Death in 1348, anyone? Rats in New York? ) and anything natural history-ish.
Stacks of books sprout wherever I perch: volumes I mean to read, books I have started, tomes I use for reference.
When Mr. Linton and I downsized, I culled about a third of my collection and still needed to rent a scissor-lift to get the rest of them up the stairs.
Sidebar Truth: While waiting for the delivery of the scissor-lift, and knowing the advantageous tide would wait for no book, Mr. Linton trotted the literal ton of books up stairs on tireless feet without a single complaint. Bless him.
I have reading recommendations the way pharmaceutical reps have sample packs and cronuts -- with roughly the same goal. Minus the commission.
Instead of jotting down book recommendations on scraps of paper and then scotch-taping them someplace handy, a user can type in the name of the book (or a close approximation) or the name of the author and save it to the shelf of Books to Read.
Were I a slightly more nimble consumer, I could obtain any book with a few keystrokes, but my connections are not so tight.
Diversifying my stream: I read physical books that I buy. I read physical books that I borrow from the library. My sister (bless her!) gave me one of her extra Kindles, so I read on that, or on the iPad. We listen to books on CD or as podcasts or digital files.
I whittled a few titles off the "Books to Read" list recently and discovered one of my favorite bookchoices for the year. Some friends may be getting a copy of
The Fly Trap by Fredrik Sjöberg
Fredrik Sjöberg is an entomologist. He's aware how quirky a profession that is. And his particular passion –– hoverflies –– is not especially showy or accessible to the general public.
"Of course I could name a number of very good, very sensible reasons why a person ought to collect flies, but I am not a missionary."
Indeed he is not -- ostensibly -- trying to get his readers interested in hoverflies, fascinating as they may be. In this memoir, he's writing instead about larger questions of obsession and nature (or the outdoors anyway, as he thinks people's passion for "unspoiled" wilderness is a load of hooey).
He's clever and funny, with an original turn to his thinking that startles and charms. (He points out in passing that the only place an entomologist specializing in forensic work on cadavers might have enough work to make a living would be the United States.)
Like all the best memoirs, the book –– slim, but promising to continue in another two volumes –– is not so much about Sjöberg's insects, but about what he has learned from his pursuit of them.
I should be more embarrassed at my giddy fan-girl response to Sjöberg's story, but as my companions will attest: I cheerfully read aloud whole pages for their enjoyment as well as my own.