Best Book Club (Lent Read #4)

Lily King’s The English Teacher has strong Olive Kitteridge vibes.

I’m deep into Lily King’s backlist. Now that my back is better, I’m not reading and quite the rate I was when I spent the day in bed. We are in a lovely routine right now with every one working on school the first half of the day while I’m writing. Lily King’s books are gorgeous and exactly the books I need to remind me why I love reading and writing so much.

One of the highlights of every day is still talking to my Nana. I’d recently sent her a picture of my new little office, beside my bookshelves in front of a sunny window. Her reaction was “how many books do you have!?” and she said she loved seeing that picture because it made her realize how I’m still the same kid she used to take to the library and the bookstore and we’d spend hours picking out the perfect thing to read next.

Our conversation took off and we talked about how, like so many woman my age, read Flowers in the Attic too soon. She told me she secretly read it while I was which I didn’t know and made us laugh. We talked about Judy Blume and how Blubber had made me cry because I hated how much the main character was teased. We talked about how it couldn’t be possible that Are you There God, It’s Me Margaret? is now more than 50 years old and that we want to read it again.

We talked about the gaps in our reading that we want to fill. Agatha Christie and more Jane Austen. She wants to read Jane Eyre. She told me that when she worked at the Whitby Public Library, despite the author being from Whitby, it took years for staff to order Dixon’s Hardy Boys or Keene’s Nancy Drew series because they were so badly written. Nana had to fight for finally get them on the shelves.

She told me – and I loved this – that when she moved to the new library – the library that is now the Whitby library – they had their first Young Adult display. She turns 94 next week and I’m going to buy her Gabrielle Moss’ Paperback Crush, as is described on the front as “the totally radical history of ’80s and ’90s teen fiction. I love my copy and it’ll be great to go through the pages and titles together during over calls and see which covers and authors she remembers. What stories they bring up.

We talked last night about how she was always tripping over me during my Harriet the Spy phase (which I like to think has never ended) and how she always knew by a certain joyful laugh that I was reading Anastasia Krupnik. We talked about my love of stories that took place in boarding schools and how my aunt in England would send my the Enid Byton Malory Towers series. How I would bawl over Jean Little’s sad stories of other kids with CP. It was the perfect sort of conversation you have when everything falls away and you’re flying, same feeling I get when I’m writing. It makes me so happy to be reminded that I have been so very lucky to have this consistent goodness in my life, books and writing, since I was so small. And that I get to share it all with her.

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