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Books ‘ never leave home without one

I would never get in my car for a trip farther away than the Jay C (I live in downtown Corydon) without a book to read.
You just never know if you will be bored out amongst them English and need something to do. And since what I am reading is always so interesting, at least to me, I have to know what other people are reading too. The next golden egg of a book may be the very one that this lady waiting on her oil change is reading right now. So I ask, assuming that I am getting good vibes, ‘I don’t want to bother you, but I am just curious, what are you reading?’
Four out of five times, I never hear an answer in a straight-forward way. They must first apologize for the fact that this is ‘just a mystery’ … ‘just a romance’ … ‘just something my sister loaned me’ … That word ‘JUST’ is emphasized and means that this book doesn’t deserve being talked about. They are ashamed of what they are reading!! I learned to quit belittling my reading material early on when I was in seventh grade English.
We had a good, maybe even great, teacher who insisted on discussing the material everyday.
‘Conjugation is a systematic arrangement of verb forms designed to show how the forms of verbs are affected by person, number, tense and voice.’
I have been able to recite that on request all my life. No one has ever requested it, but I live in hope.
One spring day, the teacher up front, windows open, breeze blowing, and I am zoned out with chin propped on hand, staring out the window smelling the cut grass. I’m perched in the back of the room, of course. Picture a little chickadee hopping around happily, chirp, chirp, oblivious to the fat cat slobbering at the ease of this upcoming kill.
‘MISS Sample … can you please fill us in on another meaning for the word spider?’ I see this whole scene in slow motion with a sudden registering of his TONE (which implied there was no way I would know this) and the fact that I am being asked something … hum … Oh yeah. Spider. I casually turn my head, but don’t lift my head off my hand and announce, ‘A spider is a frying pan that sits on legs so you can cook on a campfire.’
I looked and felt in that instant like a kid with Attitude. Up I sat with a jerk and realized: Hey, Leah! You are in trouble!!! Pull it together! I am loving writing this because I can still see his face in my mind. Utterly dumbfounded and nonplussed. All those words that mean surprised out of his mind. It was superb.
I was teetering on the edge of disaster for two seconds while the spider thought about the fly that got away. Where did that nugget of cooking knowledge surface so conveniently from? Trixie Belden. Child sleuth. I read those books a thousand times. Over and over. I had ‘The Happy Valley Mystery’ memorized. That’s the one where Trixie gets Jim’s bracelet.
This is the moment I had my epiphany. It doesn’t matter what you read!! Everything has worth. Trixie Belden was my favorite, but I knew it wasn’t great writing even as a kid reading it. It was fun. That’s all. What a relief to put down the burden of guilt and self-doubt that I picked up when I didn’t like and couldn’t read ‘Robinson Crusoe.’
I remember the ‘Jeopardy’ whiz, Ken Jennings, who was asked what he read to gain such a conglomeration of facts. ‘Everything.’
Exactly. No apologies accepted.