Let me introduce myself: I am a reader. That is probably my most distinctive quality. I read, talk about, study and teach novels for a living now because I first identified deeply as a reader. Even before I could read I wanted to. Longing to go to school is one of my earliest memories.
I know we are legion, the passionate readers, the Kindle addicts, the proud owners of library cards, the interior decorators whose primary medium is books. And when we meet each other we don’t (usually) share a secret handshake or a discrete nod; we talk: Don’t you love that book? Do you mind if I look at your bookshelves? Who is your favorite writer? Some of us propose that Loyd Peregrina of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams may be as ideal a romantic hero as Mr. Darcy (and most of us have opinions about Mr. Darcy), but just putting that proposition out there can provoke an hours-long (even years-long, in some cases) debate. Charlotte or Emily Bronte? Phillip Roth or Toni Morrison? Fun Home or Watchmen?
We’re a clan, a club, a family. You are my people.
And you are the ones I hope this blog finds.
Let me tell you why. One of my favorite teachers and mentors (a woman I never met until I was 35 and already a professor) started a now more than fifty-year long tradition for alumnae at my university, and she named it “Conversation with Books.” Catherine Pribyl Lupori would sit in front of crowd, even at 94, and, with her panel of friends, talk about the eight or ten books they had tabbed as among the best books of the year. People turned out to hear her witty and honest assessments, to get her recommendations of classics for re-reading, and to join the conversation.
The day before she died her two long-time collaborators in Conversation went to visit her. She had refused a feeding tube and knew she was dying, but she still had her (inimitable) wits about her. When Judie and Ruth sat down and said, “Catherine, tell us what we can do for you,” she said, “Talk to me about books.”
Talk to me about books.
That’s the life I aspire to, full of fun and friendship and conversations about books to the very end.
And it is now my philosophy, my tagline, my (god help me) brand. It is the point of this blog.
So, welcome. I’m glad you dropped by to join the conversation.