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10 November 2012

A Family Amongst Books

I feel privileged to live in a home where everyone likes to read.  My husband and both my children usually have a book going that is not tied to school or work.  There are books in every room in the house and next to every bed.  And all this within sight of Mac, iPad, and iPhones.  I am a sceptic of people who assert that modern technology discourages people from reading attentively and for pleasure... Good, I have all that out of my system...

My personal irritation is book choice and recommendations.  It is rare that any of us read the same books.  The exceptions being His Dark Materials, Harry Potter and Harry Dresden... Strange but true.  You see with everything else we differ.  Maximum one other person will pick up the same book.  BPR (Beloved Proof Reader) can occasionally be bullied into taking a book with him but won't finish it.  My son will a. ignore me; b. read and groan about it; c. distract me by pointing out a different book he is reading already.  My daughter is much more straight forward, she ignores me and reads what she pleases.

Curse them!

I want to share, talk, gush about books.  My view of ideal family life is to sit around the dinner table harmoniously talking about books... cue my son... "Mom, you're such a nerd".  Book or reading clubs are out of the question.  Reading choices are not my own, or heaven help me, picked by Oprah.  Then we have to discuss.  Some people enjoy the direction and format of the discussion.  Others point out that they get to read books they would not have otherwise read.  I do not like polite book dissections.  I studied English Lit. and have become allergic to reading circles.  As for reading choices, I pride myself on reading pretty much anything and everything.  There is no such a thing as a topic or genre that I would not have read.  There is merely opportunity, mood and money.

So here I am begging my family to read a book I have enjoyed.  My results are mixed:

Neil Gaiman - success
Jasper Fforde - fail
Terry Pratchett - both
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - success
Jane Austen - fail

I could keep going and I do, much to the irritation of my son who feels compelled to at least reply.  This is how he found himself reading 'Kafka on the Shore' by Murakami this past Summer.  My daughter continues to ignore me...  But all is not as pathetic as it seems.

You see there is magic in discussing books with family members, especially if our tastes are so different.  There is no need for formal statements, logic or even politeness.  They already know how smart or stupid I am and can grasp any idea in flight rather than me having to explain myself in detail with impressive vocabulary.  Whether they like the idea or not is an entirely different matter.  The discussions are honest with no need to be politically correct.  There is passion and frustration and love and maybe a good bottle of wine and loads of treats.  Maybe it is a good thing these family talks don't happen often, we'd all be exhausted.  Nevertheless, books or films shared let me learn about unknown sides of my family.  We invent a family language together.  Inside jokes are created and key words or terms can bring smiles to all our faces weeks later.  Yes, I wish it happened more often, but I am grateful it happens at all.


  1. Anonymous10:25

    hola miriam,
    i daresay, the literary connections in your family are stronger than 98.3% (made up number but might be consevative) of the families in this modern world. you should be proud of your influence, guidance and gentle nagging.
    bravo my friend,

  2. Thank you, though some around here may object to the word "gentle".

  3. Anonymous09:05

    i promise, as adults your children will let you know that you did a good job. as for BPR, i'm sure he already shows appreciation.
    bye for now,