Friday, July 24, 2009

Books and Laura Bush

Yes, Yours Truly, arm in arm with Former First Lady Laura Bush. If you'll look closely you'll see that not only did I put my arm around her (she's not the Queen!), she put her arm around me. Yes! The charm still works.

The occasion was the grand opening of the Laura Bush Community Library here in Austin. Susan and I have donated money to the Westbank Community Library for nearly 25 years, both as just plain donations and also as donations In Memory Of. As the community grew, the library got more and more use so finally it was time to open this second branch.

We ignore politics when it comes to books. Laura Bush, a former librarian, is a definite asset to writers and libraries. When she was First Lady of Texas she started the Texas Book Festival and when she becase The First Lady she encouraged the development of the National Book Festival.

Susan comes from a family of Readers and if you are a Reader you'll understand why that word is capitalized. Readers read books, as children they read books after lights-out with a flashlight, they read magazines, they read newspapers, they read maps, they read instruction manuals, they even read the back of cereal boxes as they eat. When Readers take plane trips they plan carefully the number of paperback books to take. For example, a 4-hour flight means 4 books -- one carefully selected to read on the 4-hour flight, one to backup the first one in case it turns out to be a lousy book, one to read after the first one in case the flight is delayed and the first one is finished, and one to read once you arrive just in case there isn't a place to immediately buy another one. Kindle is not an option because you can't stack it in your bookcase and admire the stack, you can't make pencil underlines of your favorite lines, you can't fold the corners down, and it looks strange if you take a Kindle into the bathroom.

My Mother thought reading was a waste of time and my family ridiculed Susan for reading books so much she learned not to bring them out when she was around them. I never cared that she read all the time, in fact I was envious I couldn't easily do that. Years ago I was just a "slow" reader, but today it's identified as a particular form of dyslexia. Even reading a newspaper front page can take me over 30 minutes.

Susan kept patiently giving me books, pulling me into bookstores and libraries and encouraging me to just "practice" reading, telling me it would eventually become more natural and I would learn to love it as much as she did. She was right. Today I finished Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 and I fell in love once again with words and books and the magical worlds they create for me.

4 comments:

Diane O. said...

I'm a big reader too. Don't think I did the flashlight thing as a kid but I sure do love the drama of a good cereal box. I'm still old school and get the paper on a daily basis and read it cover to cover (takes less and less time now that they've gotten smaller and smaller). I'm also a regular volunteer with my local Friends of the Library group. All of our profits go back to the library for things that aren't in their budget. Good on you for donating and seeing the former First Lady.

bindu said...

Such a cool picture! I love books too. When I was young in India, I used to ride on the front of my father's motorcycle when he dropped me and my mother (a teacher) in school. I used to read sitting over there as he rode through the crowded indian roads! Also used to read on the crowded public buses to the point where the bus conductors (who collect tickets) knew me well and would remind me to get off at my stop. Those we the days ... it's a great habit that my mother cultivated in us and I'm grateful.

ArtPropelled said...

Great photo Don. I'm an avid reader too and have done the flashlight thing and the cereal box ...meditation. I couldn't exist without books.

priti.lisa said...

You have managed to describe perfectly the whole essence of being a Reader. Do you mind if I copy your definition in my journal? I will, of course, use your name as the author...
Peace, Love and Words, Lisa