Posts Tagged ‘reading’



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I have suffered numerous bad habits over the years, beginning with Thumb Sucking.

My parents tried everything including rubbing something on that tasted bad.  Nothing worked.  Finally, on the first day of kindergarten the teacher announced, “Look around children.  We have a baby in the room.”  And there they were all looking at ME!  I do love commanding attention (still) but that was the last day of thumb sucking.

Then in the teen years there was the Nail Biting habit.

Would you say these habits were symptoms of an insecure personality?

In those days, long fingernails were a sign of beauty (but mostly a sign of control over one’s habitual impulses).  I proudly decided to stop nail biting and stopped.  Congrats to that determined young woman.

Smoking was another horrible habit which took hold for years until I stopped “cold turkey”.

I still feel rather smug and self-righteous about that and sincerely try not to lecture friends about the evils of smoking.

Oddly enough, Rubbing-it-In can become a habit too.

But now my latest habit involves Reading Books!


Habitual reading maybe?

Habitual reading of special interest books?

Too much reading?

Too much of the same kind of reading?

No, No, No and No.

What happened the other night revealed  an entirely new habit to break.

The story goes like this:  I was reading a “real book.”

The definition of a real book is one you can hold in your hands and turn pages.  If you are destructive you can even write in it or turn down page corners (but this is a travesty and can be considered inhuman behavior).

Anyway, I was reading a real book for a change and suddenly found myself tapping the side of the page.

Nothing happened so I tapped again.

Then I tapped more aggressively.

Nothing happened.

Until it finally clicked in that I was not reading on my Kindle, and could not tap the margins of a real book to make it turn a page.

 I had to turn the page myself!

Talk about a strange habit in late life!





This habit of page tapping has become so ingrained I may need lessons on how to read a real book – the kind you can find in the library – or at least some libraries.

I hear some university libraries are doing away with real books and going fully digital.


Any suggestions for a cure though?

I am a Habitual Page Tapper and need help to break the habit.



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There’s more to aging than I expected.

There is the expectation fear of aging.

For a week now my vision has been blurry.

And of course the insidious aging process has already begun.  Along with a myriad of minor aches and pains, my eyesight was fading.  Incoming email messages to my smart phone were lost in a dim sea of gray and I found myself straining (even with glasses) to read blogger’s posts and important correspondence.

Ha!  I do keep the ringer loud though, so people think I am extremely popular.

But back to fading eyesight, “Maybe I need new glasses,” I thought.

Last night I decided it was time to discuss this most recent aging complaint with a specialist.

On the other hand, maybe I should look at the smart phone settings first.


The brightness option was turned off.

And Voila!

With the click of a button, my vision was completely restored.

The moral of this story is not to let fear of aging (or warped technology) get you down.

Just because you can’t see straight doesn’t mean you need to adjust your glasses.





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We conducted an informal  poll at my local book club – The Blue Ridge Readers.  We have been reading and discussing books for over ten years now and lately asked the question:

 What is your favorite kind of book?

There were the Historical Novel lovers,

the Romance Seekers (aren’t we all?),

Avid Gourmet Foodies,

the Humorists,

Non-fiction Devotees,


Dor the Doomsdayer.

When I somehow stammered out the ugly truth, that I love doomsday books, there was a shocked moment of silence and twitters of nervous laughter in our normally all-accepting, socially correct gathering of serious readers.

And someone finally said, “You are the last person I would think would like that kind of reading.”

“Well, it is my contention,” I replied, “that one should not only enjoy reading, but one should try to acquire wisdom and learn something useful in the process.”  

The above haughty approach is what I meant to say but what I really said was,

“You know, I like survival stories. 

and by way of further explanation,

 “I LOVE reading about the Plague and am now engrossed in The Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, where a small English village is left nearly empty of people and the roads are overgrowing with grass for lack of use (since everybody dies of course).”

Year of Wonders

This explanation did not help much to explain the pleasures of doomsday reading to my book group.  I went on,

Great Infuenza“I really enjoyed reading The Great Influenza.  Now that’s a winner and it’s all true stuff.”

“And I loved Isaac’s Storm about the devastating 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas and the arrogance of man against nature. Did you know that most of Galveston is only ten feet above sea level? “Isaac's Storm


But then there was a hint of a giggle from the back and that ended up in all-group laughter.  And they weren’t laughing at me (at least I don’t think so).  They were laughing with me for a preoccupation with surviving encroaching tragedy.

I am also preoccupied with stocking up for a potential pandemic but there was another post about that.  Did you know they have found edible honey in Egyptian tombs?

But, finally to prove my point to my Blue Ridge Reader friends, the last book we discussed at meeting, (which everybody seemed to love)  was The Widow’s War, by Sally Gunning, a novel about a brave woman struggling to keep her home and stay afloat after her husband drowned at sea.  Her “widow’s war” was a fight for her rights to an independent life and to own property in Massachusetts in 1761.

Widow's War

The Widow’s War is a perfect survival story.

The poor widow had to make her own cheese you know.  Could I do that?  I need to find a book on how to make cheese.

And she made her own candles too.  That was fascinating even though she practically burned her house down in the process.

But you get the idea right?

There is something to be said for doomsday reading.

Or are you laughing with me like the rest of my book club?

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Not My Book Club
Not Enough Excitement
I just think this photo is adorable – From Richard Hertzler/Lancaster New Era

Before we moved to the country and learned how to adjust to gravel roads, fallen trees, wandering cows and even strolling bears, my husband, Bill, and I both worked in the big city.  There was little time to join a book group as we led our humdrum lives working and raising a rambunctious son.   But, soon after retiring and moving to a little country paradise in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia I became a member of The Blue Ridge Readers!  Talk about excitement! Wow!

O.k. – Borrrring right?  I mean all you young whippersnappers out there in the blogusfear may not even read books anymore. But don’t stop reading please.  If you are craving adventure and excitement, joining a book club may be just the ticket – and not just from devouring Whodunnits.  “There’s more to a book club than a book”, and that’s my own direct quote.  And if you want to inject new life into your own group, here are some secrets.

How to Super Charge or Re-charge Your Book Group

1)      Add Holiday Bash!  Whoooohooooo!

The Blue Ridge Readers share more than good reading!  Guess what?  We have refreshments once a year for one whole hour and no book discussion!  It’s our Holiday Get-Together –  a grand  somewhat understated December bash  party at a local restaurant!  We order our individual beverages of choice plus a varied selection of appetizers and then everybody splits the bill and splits the snacks too.  There’s a whole  lot of  wild goin’s on and camaraderie in one little afternoon hour.   Now that’s living dangerously don’t you agree?  Well, it’s more exciting than a tea partyanyway.

No! No!  don’t leave this blog post yet!  You will miss the real thrills!

2)      Create Your Own Website  Be still my heart!

If you want REAL excitement, your blood to boil faster and your hair to stand on end, be sure to check out The Blue Ridge Readers website.  Even if you aren’t a member of our club, you may want to create a website of your own.  There are so many book suggestions on the Blue Ridge Readers’ site, we often think we have won the lottery!

3)     Have a Private Book Sale  And just try to stay calm!

Yes, sometimes we have private book sales!  Whoa! Sit down for this one.  Occasional sales are how we clear our at-home shelves of extra books to make room for more extras.  On Buck-A-Book Day we sell books to each other  for $1 each.    Proceeds are donated to our local library.  Unsold books are also donated to the library.  Accolades please! Benevolence may not sound particularly exciting, but believe me, you will get a real rush!

4)      Work with “Friends”  We simply can’t wait!

Our club is now forming an alliance with Friends of the Library – a group of dedicated volunteers with an exciting program of author speakers and sponsored library book sales.   The merger promises to be heart stopping.  Do I hear laughter?  Come on now, don’t you get a charge  from increasing your reading options?  We are really excited about working with this group and making them our friends too.  Do you have a similar volunteer organization working for your library?  Think about how they can  supercharge your own book club or how you can work with them too to enhance the services of your local library and encourage more happy reading.

I do love my book club.  And even though I joke about how exciting it is, well, it actually is.  And since the group’s motto is to share good reading, if you are local and would like to join us, please do.  It’s free and we have room for a few more real live members.  If you are not local and would like to join our ONLINE BOOK CLUB just let me know by sending your email address.    Online membership is also free and the expectation is that you too will find excitement and camaraderie even if you live clear across the world.   Well, at least you will be privy to a few ideas for good reading.

Do you belong to a book club of your own?  Let’s share our lists!  How exciting can you get?

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Do you remember the first grown-up novel you ever read?

I do.

It was Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

And I have never been so frustrated by the end of a book in all the years since.

I was a pre-teen who believed love would always prevail and that life was all about story book happy endings. Was I in for a surprise!

Published long ago (in 1911), this tragic story clearly portrays the struggles of the poor, the frustration of unrequited love, the sadness of human failure and the diabolical tricks of fate.  Ethan Frome transmits a realistic intensity that is as current now as in any modern cinematic drama.  I was totally mesmerized.  I could not put the little book down.  I willed it to have a happy ending, and I was hooked on reading.  I still love this amazing work of fiction, no matter the frustration of a trio of tragic destinies, and I still have the impulsive urge to rewrite the last pages.

If you have not yet read it, this is the story of a dirt-poor New England farmer (gorgeous handsome man of course), his ailing nagging shrew of a wife , their bleak landscape, the finality of constant misery, and a beautiful “hired girl” (his wife’s vivacious cousin) who arrives to be a housekeeper and who  brings joy and hope for happiness into Ethan’s life.  It’s the writing that brings everything  to life and the writing grabs you, right from the beginning.

Ethan Frome is thought by many to be Edith Wharton’s masterpiece and an American classic.  There is a film now too, starring Liam Neeson as Ethan. The movie is as poignant as the book and well worth seeing.

Do you remember the first grown-up novel you ever read?  What was it?

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