I come from a family of readers. My paternal grandfather was a farmer who read voraciously, and had shelves of books in his house. He had an entire set of Dickens, all of Shakespeare’s plays, and many, many history books and novels, which he picked up at farm sales during the Depression. When he died, I took the books, and my librarian cousin took the shelves, which were the kind used by lawyers that had glass fronts that opened up from the bottom. I think they are called Barrister’s bookcases
Grandpa’s grandfather was a reader, too. He was named Martin Cornelius Freerks, and was born in Rysum, Ostfriesland Germany in 1827. He was a laborer there, and immigrated to the US in about 1851. He lived first in Pekin, Illinois, and worked as a drayman, which meant he was responsible for meeting passengers at the train station to haul them and their goods where they needed to go. Family history indicates that he was often absorbed in a book when the train came in and would arrive late or not at all. “Ganz in boeken besiet” (completely lost in books) friends and family would say. He eventually moved to Iowa and lived the last part of his life with my grandpa and his family. Grandpa said that Martin had “a whole roomful’ of books accumulated over the years.
I used to read all the time, but for some reason, perhaps due to life stress with my parents’ deaths, children’s transitions, work issues, etc., I stopped reading for pleasure about five years ago and filled my spare time with crossword puzzles. I am trying to start reading again. Husband visits our local libraries regularly, and we have scores of books in our house. I just have to pick up something and start and apply myself. I typically like traditional murder mysteries, but I find them hard to appreciate now. I am impatient waiting for the plots to resolve. I don’t like suspense these days. Perhaps I need to start with non-fiction and work my way back to previously unread novels. I think it will be good self care if I do.
Daughter says she is going to join a book club when she graduates from college, and admits she has a book addiction problem. Great Great Grandpa Martin would be pleased.
What are the pleasures and pains of reading for you? What is hard/easy for you to read? What do you want done with your books when you die?