Books and words are old friends, aren’t they? Fiction, nonfiction, dictionaries, picture books, maps… One of my pleasures is to browse in a bookstore or library and see familiar names across the centuries: Chaucer, Saint Simon, Emily Dickenson, Amy Lowell, Kenneth Graham, Edith Wharton, James Baldwin, E. M. Forester, Ruth Rendell, Michael Connolly, etc. Each recognized name makes me recall the book, the author, the circumstances under which I read it. When I read Simenon’s description of French life it takes me back to a rural train station near Rodez in which my partner and I had delicious
homemade soup. Andrea Wulf’s Founding Gardeners whisked me back to colonial times and to the fragility of the brand new United States.
A man once told me that he enjoyed flipping open a dictionary at random to wander among the words and their derivations. One reason I enjoy the British sitcom, Black Books, so much is because it takes place in an old fashioned, hideously disorganized bookstore. I had thought of opening a children’s bookstore but chickened out when I faced the reality of cost. Reading is a wonderful way of taking a trip in time and space. Why does it grip some of us more than TV, movies and the stage?