Every so often, I enjoy going through my phone book and calling an old friend I haven’t spoken to for a while for a chat and a catch up. That’s how I had the pleasure of talking to Margie, the mother of a neighbor of mine. A lovely lady and former teacher, Margie lives in Lexington, Kentucky. From time to time, she visits her son and his family who live a few doors down from me. Whenever she makes it up, we try to get together. But recently, we’ve been visiting by phone, which is always fun. One of the things that always comes up in our chats is books.
Margie is a lifelong learner and avid reader. For many years, she’s been the devoted member of a book club in her hometown and whenever we talk, she always tells me about the latest books she’s been reading. Her club casts a wide net: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs — over time, it’s covered the waterfront. Once, Margie was even kind enough to send me a copy of a book her club read that she thought I’d enjoy — what a lovely surprise that was.
Right now, Margie’s been thinking that she wants to go back to some of the classics again: for some reason, she has in mind The Brothers Karamazov. I told her that I’ve been doing the same thing and that Jane Eyre and Madame Bovary were really amazing to reread now that I’ve taken the plunge into fiction.
Margie also talked about feeling lukewarm about a new book she’s reading for her book group — somehow, it just doesn’t grab her because she doesn’t really like the main character. I know the feeling! I remember starting a book by a well-known author and thinking to myself about the main character, “I wouldn’t care if this woman got hit by a truck on the next page.” And you know what? I stopped reading the book. I figured that there was absolutely no point in reading a story about a character that I couldn’t connect with emotionally.
For Margie and me, talking about books is a wonderful way to stay connected. And for us, the whole point of reading fiction is to be transported and moved. What else is there? How about you: Are you fond of bonding with friends over books?