Blogger: Michelle Ule
Filling in for Wendy who is at the dentist–and then recovering–after a long weekend of dental pain.
Momentous Books for Momentous Times
As a life-long voracious reader, I’m seldom without a book in hand. My i-touch makes that even easier now, of course, than it did in the old days when I lugged a library book everywhere. I never took a child to the emergency room without first collecting a bag of books to read–for the child, but also with one for me because you never know how long you’re going to be stuck there.
But sometimes you can plan and prepare, and I wonder what books you took with you on momentous moments in your own life?
My father read all the time, and I thought to ask him, once, what he was reading when I was born.
Frankly, I was shocked. Why would you read such a massive story while awaiting the exciting birth of–me–your first-born child?
When my wedding day and honeymoon loomed, I gave this question a lot of thought. What book should I take on my honeymoon?
My groom had been at Officer Candidate School the five months prior to the wedding. I’d only seen him for one weekend in all that time. I made the great sacrifice: I would not take any book and focus entirely on him.
Not a bad idea, but one of his groomsmen gave him an autographed copy of his favorite author’s latest book, Lucifer’s Hammer, as a wedding gift.
We ended up at a tiny little bookstore trying to find something for me to read. I picked up C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra.
Though I’m not sure I ever finished it.
I grabbed the closest book when I went to the hospital for the birth of my first child. A biography of Dorothy Parker probably wasn’t the best choice, but the pithy wordsmithing amused me.
When I got home from the hospital, I picked up Robert K. Massie’s Peter the Great. One of the best biographies I ever read, it kept me occupied for several weeks while I nursed my baby.
Barbara Woodhouse’s No Bad Dogs was the book du jour for child number two. We had a new puppy.
I took several month’s worth of National Geographic magazines to the hospital with the third son. I read a lengthy article about hiking the Appalachian Trail and dreamed of a Boy Scouting life for my child–which is exactly what happened.
During other important, but sad, times I read a biography of Queen Victoria and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Both books allowed me to escape into happier worlds far from my difficulties.
And after I waited eight months for my name to rise to the top of the “hold” list at the library, Reading Lolita in Teheran arrived the week my first child got married. Unfair! I crammed the reading of that book between all the wedding festivities and still wasn’t finished when the book was due a week later. I kept it several extra days and paid 75 cents in late fees.
What about you?
How do you choose a book to read at an important moment in your life? What did you read and why?