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A lifelong love affair with books March 21, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Uncategorized.

One of my bookshelves

I read too much. We all do anymore, with e-mails and Web sites and blogs and Twitter and whatever else taking up so much of our days, both at home and on the job. I’m a traditionalist who still gets a daily newspaper delivered too, plus I have a couple of magazine subscriptions. And all of that reading each day makes it a challenge to find time for my first love: reading books. I do find the time, just not as much as I’d like.

Once I learned to read in first grade, books became my constant companions. Every car ride, even if just to my Grandma Coleman’s house twenty minutes away, meant bringing a book with me. I loved buying books (a habit that still continues) and checking them out of the library (one that hasn’t, since I own so many books I still haven’t read).

I’d do whatever it took to get books too. When we were 11 or 12 years old, my next-door neighbor Terri (now novelist Therese Fowler) and I used to ride our bikes a couple of miles to the tiny branch library adjacent to a fire station to check out books. Though it’s vague, I have a recollection of transporting the books in a free backpack from Hardees. We’d ride home and get to reading.

Exploring the books my Grandma Coleman and Grandma and Grandpa O’Brien had were a high point of visiting them. When I first read Grandma C’s copy of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” I found a kindred spirit in Francie Nolan with her reading of a book a day and desire to read all the books in the world. That book, from 1943, is mine today and has been read so many times it’s now fragile with a broken and frayed binding. Last fall I purchased a paperback copy. The story is identical and still captivating, but seems out of place in this new package. My other grandparents had more non-fiction books – I absolutely loved reading an encyclopedia of television shows Grandma had, about the shows I could remember and the many that were before my time. Grandpa had an almanac in his bedroom that I enjoyed picking up, flipping through and reading random entries. Today, it’s on one of my bookshelves.

Yes, I have multiple bookshelves plus a couple of big tubs full of books. Most are ones I have yet to read. Last year I made two reading-related New Year’s resolutions: to not buy any books so I could read some of the ones I had and to read 40 books for the year. I did pretty well with the first one until late summer. When I went to Madison, Wis., for Labor Day weekend, my friends Jan and Mike and I went shopping at a couple used book stores. One was even having an extra sale that weekend! It was too good to pass up, so I drove home with 10 new-to-me books. Around the same time I also joined my friend Linda’s book group. So that was a legitimate reason to buy a new book every month – plus it gave me the opportunity to talk about books (among many other topics) with a great group of women. And, somehow, I did fulfill the resolution of reading 40 books for 2009.

This year: no book-reading resolutions. And I am finding it more difficult to find time to read so far this year – it took me months to finish a terrific baseball book, “Sixty Feet, Six Inches,” even though there was a fascinating online discussion going on with my Twitter Cardinals friends. It also took some cramming late last week to finish reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France” for yesterday’s book group. Like making the time to write, reading too is all a matter of priorities.

My favorite way to spend the day remains curling up on the couch with a book and getting lost in another world, whether fictional or factual. And, if you’ll excuse me, that’s what I’m going to spend a little time doing right now …


On another book-related note, congratulations to Jeanne Matthews, one of my 2005 Iowa workshop classmates, whose first novel will be published June 1! “Bones of Contention” is a murder mystery set in Australia – learn more at www.jeannematthews.com. I just ordered a copy and look forward to reading it this summer.



1. linda suring - March 22, 2010

Put this way, it’s amazing that we still somehow still choose to read more!

I am such a book addict, I can’t resist the temptation. Borders – my version of the ice cream shop. It doesn’t help that I work right next door. It is embarassing though when I buy that new book only to take it home and find I’ve already bought it, which has happened more than once.

Thanks for sharing my addiction.

2. lsmurphy - March 22, 2010

I’m in the same boat. WIth a toddler running around, working full-time, and working on a manuscript, reading has taken a backseat. Recently I finally managed to read Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr and the third Dairy Queen book, Front and Center, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. But I had to take time off from everything else to do so.

3. Jan Klawitter - March 22, 2010

Don’t feel bad, Linda. I’ve purchased “double” books on many an occasion. Usually it’s when I’ve been shopping at library book sales or used book stores. I’ll see something and think, “That looks really interesting. I wonder if I have it already? Oh heck, it’s cheap” and go ahead and buy it. Then when I get home and find I already have a copy, I put whichever version looks best into a bag to eventually take back to the used book store and re-sell.

linda suring - March 23, 2010

The last time I returned a “duplicate” book and sheepishly told them why, the clerk said “well that’s refreshing, most people say they bought it for someone else, who already had it.” Made me feel better somehow.

4. patti lacy - March 26, 2010

Hey, Christine! Join the club, girl! It’s part of being a writer.

Enjoyed “meeting” you today and hope you visit my blog sometime!!!

Christine Coleman - March 26, 2010

Thanks, Patti, I will check it out!

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