Like a great meal

Conflicting emotions wrestle one another when I finish reading a good story. I can’t honestly deny a whiff of bereavement. No longer will I see and hear the people I have come to know and more important, to care about. They will be gone. But it feels so good to push back from the table when a good meal ends, satisfied. Nourished. Francis Bacon once said,  “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
Last night in bed, I arrived at the last page of “Light on Snow,” an absorbing tale by the gifted writer Anita Shreve, and of course, I felt sad to say goodbye to it, but what a great meal. Nourishing. Satisfying. Good writing does that.

More than many authors whose good writing have fed my imagination, Ursula Hegi invariably serves me a great meal. But there are so many others, so many favorites. And it’s not only fiction that draws me in. Biographies and non-fiction can be wonderful, too, particularly when they shed light on a person or subject I care deeply about: classical music, the Holocaust, journalism.

Last week Betsy and I descended on Flyleaf Books, an inviting, wonderful independent bookstore in Chapel Hill that was offering a three-day sale for members. Clutching gift cards bestowed on us at Christmas by family members, we browsed the stacks, books new and gently used and returned home lugging a  grocery bag full of tempting material that should take care of our reading urges for several weeks, months maybe. Our spirits soared.

We were read to as children, and we read to our children and grandchildren, all of whom now read for themselves. That’s how it begins. Parents, you have the power to enrich the lives of your children and grandchildren by replacing some of the time spent gazing into a small blue screen with reading time, reading together lovingly crafted stories. You will  change their lives. You will nourish them, yourself, too.

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