Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I just finished listening to Middlemarch by George Eliot (AKA Mary Ann Evans) on If you do not know what is, go Google it immediately. Basically, an app on my phone where I download books and listen to them while driving, or biking. I commute to work on my bike not infrequently, and I put one ear bud in, leaving the other ear bud out to hear the approach of the guy about to mow me down in the bike lane. My ear bud pours stories into my right ear. I hope my left ear is not too jealous. Maybe I should start alternating ears?

If you have not read Middlemarch, but are a fan of "Downton Abbey", I recommend you stop everything you are currently doing and go to your local independent bookstore and read this book. Or load it on which I do not have stock in, but if you drive or bike or run a lot, this is a good thing. I sometimes do long runs listening to novels.

I like to hold a book in my hand and read too, so while listening to one book, I am always reading another. Currently that is The Best Care Possible, by Ira Byock. He is a medical doctor, a palliative care specialist, and a philosopher of sorts. He talks about how to improve care during complex illnesses and toward the end of life. It sounds all heavy and stuff, but should be required reading, along with Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and Flight of the Wren by Atthys Gage.

The latter is my husband but he is a damn fine writer, so please read his books, if you have any sense in your brain at all.

My son, now in jail, was never "in" to reading. He sort of rebelled against us in this way, because husband and I were always sitting with our face shoved in a book. Teenagers are supposed to eschew the passions of their parents. It is, like, their job. I would not say that there is a direct correlation to my son being in jail and not reading, but there may be some argument for it, as reading opens your mind to seeing the viewpoints of others, and also challenges you to rethink what you hold as true. Crime and Punishment comes to mind, which my eldest daughter once wrote a brilliant essay on. One day I came home from work to hear her and my husband discussing this book, but she and he had renamed all the characters as Sponge Bob characters, as the Russian names were too hard to remember and pronounce. This argues for a nice healthy balance between TV and books. And a trivia point: the original creator of "Sponge Bob Squarepants" was a guy who attended the college in our home town.

My son in jail is now reading a lot. Because jail offers little else to do. Video games? Nope. Television? Nope. Drugs? Well, I certainly hope not. A glimpse of the outdoors? Nope. Yes, an 18 year old, scared kid who made bad choices is stuck without any sun exposure for months on end. I am sure this will be the key to a healthy reentry into polite society. least he is reading.

Reading while running seems natural to me. I mean, you cannot actually read while running, though maybe you can if running on a treadmill, but you can run while listening to someone reading to you. Just like music. Or the sound of one hand clapping, which the purists would probably prefer. Reading while in prison seems essential. And reading at all is a rare thing in our society. Apparently about 10% of people read regularly. And we wonder why Trump is a serious candidate.

All snarky comments aside, I do have some observations to make.
1) Prison is inhumane.
2) Reading is a luxury that we take for granted.
3) If my son hangs for poor choices made at age 13-18, but Donald Trump becomes our next President, then no book in the world can explain to me the logic of the Universe.

Our local bookstore sells a bumper sticker. If you do not like swearing, please look away:

Read a Fucking Book.

1 comment:

  1. and similarly... I have a bumber sticker Jennifer that says: "reading is sexy."