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July 23, 2008

Books and Book Friends

Posted by carol
Do you have a particular person (or more than one perhaps) with whom you love to discuss what you're reading and swap book ideas? contributor Esther Bushell tells us about one of her favorite book friends.

Not only do I have favorite books, but I also have favorite book friends. Patty Rudiger and I met more than 30 years ago when we started to play tennis together; I was also dazzled by her daughter, Hollis, a little perky, precocious child who had more confidence and poise than any other child I knew. Patty and I discovered that we both loved to read, and we always recommended books to each other. One of our earliest shared loves was Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. If you've never read it, drop everything and read it. I've already looked it up for you, and it's still in print, as it should be!

Patty loved Pat Conroy and introduced me to him; I loved books that were a bit darker and I also read more of the classics, so we always had AHA! reading experiences to share with each other. Patty lives in Florida now, but when she comes back to Old Greenwich in the summer, we walk at the beach together every Monday morning. Admittedly, we gossip, exchange recipes, talk about our changing bodies, our families and current events, but quite unconsciously, we begin our walks discussing books and end our walks discussing books. I raved about Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins, and now that's on Patty's favorite/gift giving list. Last summer, Patty raved about Ivan Doig, and as a result, all of my book groups discussed The Whistling Season.

Hollis went to Middlebury and then became an MLS; she eventually became involved in and taught at the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), part of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. You can have no idea how proud I felt to hear Hollis on NPR, Sunday edition, a couple of years ago. She comes by her love of reading and books --- and all things literary --- very honestly and certainly genetically.

Bottom line: books enrich our lives, but more importantly, so do our book friends.

---Esther Bushell