"Frankly Scarlett, I Don’t Give a Damn"
Updated: Mar 8
Frankly, I’d rather read than spend time on the computer, watch TV, or sometimes socialize.
From the early childhood evenings I snuggled beside my mother before bed while she read to us about Christopher Robin until now, I just can’t seem to find anything that can take the place of a great book.
Since retiring, I easily read 5-6 books a month, mostly fiction with a good memoir or non-fiction to break things up. If a day or two goes by without my books, I feel like something is very wrong. I have felt this way since graduate school and the early parenting years that followed when I barely had time to read at all. It was so busy all day that I dropped off to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. On the infrequent occasions I tried to open a book, I would get frustrated with the children's interruptions. It was easier to leave the books on hold for later years.
But, before college, I was an avid reader. One summer at the lake house as a middle school student, my family was expecting company. I was deep into Gone With the Wind, totally transported to the Confederate south during the Civil War. Blood, stench and ruin were everywhere. Stretched out, hiding on the top bunk bed, I made my way to the final chapter just as the company arrived. My father, very irritated that I was not present to welcome our guests who had daughters my sister and my age, was calling for me to come out of my room. Near tears, I could not put the book away until I finished the last line. Although he did not understand my rudeness, our guests did and saved me from punishment. Scarlett’s plight in life could not be delayed for company.
About 20 years ago, a girlfriend and I started a book club to help fill our empty nests as our daughters left for college. Although the women in the club have changed somewhat over the years, it is one of my favorite social commitments. Typically, we read first novels by new authors or a highly recommended book. I’d say we hit homers close to 80% of the time. But, it is much more than that. We have forged special relationships with each other and trust the privacy of the group to share our secrets - sometimes painful stories evoked from book plots. To add even more depth, we cook delightful meals and drink a bit. My recipe box has grown from some of the awesome dishes enjoyed at these gatherings.
We have read a number of books before they became famous - like 50 Shades of Grey. It was selected during a period I was getting weekly infusions and I was looking forward to reading it on my Kindle during my four hour treatment. I settled into the infusion chair and started in. Well, it didn’t take more than a chapter to realize I was deep into “well written” erotica. Thankful I didn’t have a book cover showing, I was blushing deeply and when the nurses came over to adjust things and check on me (blushing can be a chemo reaction), I covered the screen. I was too embarrassed to admit I was getting turned on by this very explicit book during chemotherapy of all things! As you might imagine, there was lots of silly laughter during that club meeting.
This summer, for the first time in over 40 years, I am having another lazy season at our lake home. I have downloaded many books and get such joy out of cracking them open (figuratively) on my Kindles. So far, I have been transported to pre-liberation India, the battlefields of WWII (from the British, French and Russian perspectives), the hills of Idaho, and so on. When I look up, I see the beauty of nature around me on the lake and the Appalachian Trail beyond. I’m in heaven!
Have you read any good books lately?
If you would like a list of our Book Club reads, just let me know! I am happy to share.