Last week, Elisabeth wrote about the books she returns to for comfort As we end our month long writing, this It’s Monday What are You Reading, I write about what I am reading and also what I recommend to you. I write in the community of writers brought together by Two Writing Teachers in our March 31 Day Writing Challenge. This is slice 30/31.
Comfort in Books #sol20
March 30, 2020
In the first days after school closed, before we developed our first phase of our distance plan, I came home and escaped into a book. Books have always been a comfort to me in sadness, in change, in fatigue. No matter what else might happen, books can be depended upon. Since childhood, I have gathered books around me and turned to them in transitions.
As many literacy coaches, I have a very large to-be-read pile. The first book on the pile was one I won in a Goodreads give-away, Susan Wiggs’ The Oysterville Sewing Circle. This is the kind of book my friend calls a ‘vacation book‘. These books can be read in an afternoon, you’re relatively sure that every thing will turn out in the end, and you can fully escape into the setting, the characters, and the story arc. This same friend reads a mystery at the beginning of the summer, Louise Penny, her author of choice, to give her mind a rest. That first book in the chaos of the first days was just a rest for my mind. I have a stack of those book club books at home. My former book club mate, now retired in Wisconsin, sends me her read book club books. I have an unopened box in my library waiting that she sent last week. She keeps me up-to-date with current best sellers.
Coincidentally, I had been reading Reader Come Home about reading in the digital age when we were plunged into our virtual learning. This book brings home the idea of how now more than ever, we must encourage lap reading for all of students and families, the opportunity to have family read alouds comes to mind. Now is a wonderful time to get lost in a series together. Our local librarians is rereading all of the Harry Potter books. One of my favorite teachers has started Sisters Grimm with her student, reading aloud a chapter on video each day for students to listen to after lunch. So much comfort there.
Switch, Quiet Leadership, Dare to Lead, Atomic Habits, Leading Well and Mary Oliver live in a basket in my bedroom to be picked up whenever needed. These books, while diverse reads, are mentors for times of struggle, each in their own ways. Treasured books, in turn I reread from the beginning and other times, drop in to read a chapter or a dog-eared passage. What books are ones that you return to as trusted mentors?
What books do I recommend over and over? For respite, I often recommend a historical fiction or a fully quirky book that defies definition. In historic fiction, recently (last summer) I liked The Gown and The Editor. In the quirky category, a book I’ve been sharing is Sourdough. (read Robin Sloan’s other book too, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore) I also have favorite long time authors. From my own young mother book club days, I still read every book Elizabeth Berg ever writes. Not challenging, these books tell a tale of persevering and are as familiar as a favorite sweater. Likewise, I am loyal to Erica Bauermeister (before Reese Witherspoon) whose recent book Home Lessons is in my queue at Amazon and Libby. Who are those authors whose work you always read?
The act of reading itself is comforting. I love to read books recommended by adult friends and child friends. Currently, I am reading Breakout recommended by humbleswede. This middle grade novels tells a story in letters, text messages, and drawings of students developing a time capsule in a small town when a disruption changes their every day lives. Slipping seamlessly into the reality of a book gives us a respite from our current reality whatever that might be. Since childhood, books have always been my constant companion and comfort. They aren’t disappointing me now.