“There is no frigate like a book to bear us lands away...” These favorite words from Emily Dickinson have never seemed more apt than today. I long ago discovered that there was nowhere I could not go; all I needed was a book to take me there.
We are beginning a new year, a time when authors are being rewarded with “Book of the year” honors. A reading president is also leaving office, but not without paying tribute to the role that books have played in his life. It was a fitting time for my book club to meet for lunch.
I have written of this little group before, centering around a now fifth grader with whom we three or four adults have very far-reaching conversations. She arrived, book in hand and ready for action. We had to meet at the local diner because a cleaning lady was busy at home with the vacuum. Our booth was about serious business: discussing “Chains” by Laurie H. Anderson. I had found the book, the beginning of the American Revolution in New York as seen through the eyes of a young slave girl, particularly dark. The cruelty of her “owner” haunted me, but our youthful member was able to find many examples of heroism, loyalty and courage that dispersed some of my darker thoughts.
When we had thoroughly exhausted our topic and selected our next book, the cashier smiled at me as I paid the check. “I thought we were going to have to charge you rent,” she joked. I told her what we had been about and she was delighted. “That’s wonderful,” she said. “Have you read many books?”
I had to think back, but I realized that in less than two years we had covered some 13 books, beginning with “Anne of Green Gables” who gave her name to our group. Then it was on toS pioneer stories to Benjamin West, American painter, to a bit of fantasy. You name it; we have read and discussed a sampling of that literary form. And there is such a wealth in reading young people’s literature with a young person. The freshness of their world view is a tonic to us jaded adults.
Our next selection, of course, is “Forge”, a sequel to “Chains”. I am sure you can guess the subject matter. I do hope George Washington survives...