My dog-walking friend Christine is an avid reader and she introduced me to the fabulous Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I was lucky enough to hear Elizabeth speak and to score an autographed copy. I then loaned my signed copy to a friend, Claire, who loved it so much she sent it on to a friend of hers in Maine, who loved it as well. Claire just hand-delivered it back to me this week and I’m glad to see it safely home. My book’s trip from New Jersey to Maine and back again made me think about the whole word-of-mouth aspect of book reading and about how enlivening it can be to share books we love with the people we love.
Recently, my son, Alex, and I were in his room talking about a book we’d both just read. In the middle of our chat, Alex went over to his bookshelf, pulled down a paperback, thumbed to a page, and passed it on to me. “Here. read this, Mom,” he said. “Isn’t that an amazing sentence?!”
It sure was! The book is called The Outermost House by Henry Beston. It was written in the 1930s and quickly became a classic in the field of nature writing. It’s a kind of modern-day Walden and the book has gone through tons of printings. Alex read it in a literature class at Middlebury, but I’d never heard of it until he passed it on to me. What a treasure! Every page is filled with the most lyrical writing—you almost feel as if you are living on the beach in Cape Cod right along with Henry.
What a gift we’re given when someone shares their love of an author with us!
Just think back in your own life about the people who first exposed you to a writer who’s become a favorite of yours. What hours of enjoyment they bestow upon you. When I think about how Chris shared her enthusiasm with me and how I shared mine with Claire who shared it with someone else, I realize the beauty of pass-along passions. And when I think about how our love of reading is one of the passions that Alex and I share, well, I just feel so grateful.
How about you? Do you find that sharing an author you love with someone who responds as you do is immensely satisfying? Book reading is one of those gifts that makes both giving and receiving equally pleasurable, isn’t it?