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May ‘ 07 ~ The Potency of Books

May '07

Last Saturday a friend and I attended a May Breakfast featuring Ron McLarty, author of The Memory of Running. Every year the Rhode Island Center for the Book, (located at the Providence Public Library), selects one book as a focus for events and activities across the state from January to May.

At their Opening Conference in January, I presented a workshop on “Reinventing Your Life”. I was delighted to be a part of this program for the simple reason that I love books. They have befriended me ever since I first cracked the code with Dick and Jane.

Books are always there when you need them. Just two weeks ago, I was tucking a newly purchased book, The Female Brain and an egg salad sandwich into a canvas bag for my upcoming trip to Florida. I was headed for Vero Beach to help my 91-year-old mother make a smooth transition from the hospital to her apartment following hip replacement surgery. By the time I wandered into the bookstore at the T.F. Green Airport, I knew The Female Brain was no longer the right book for the ride and started looking for one with a stronger narrative to distract my worried mind.

I tend to select my fiction randomly. I pick up a book that attracts me, read a bit about the essence of the story, peruse the reviews and then check out the first paragraph. If it hooks me, I’m sold. It also helps if I’ve enjoyed other books by the same author. When I discovered that The Mermaid Chair was written by Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret of Bees, I bought it.

This newest book of hers did not let me down; it grabbed my attention and held it there through grating gate announcements, a crowded middle seat on the plane and bumpy weather. Wrapped in a protective cocoon, I was lost in a story about a woman who heads back to the Carolina Low Country to help her ailing mother.

So, at last Saturday’s Reading-Across-Rhode Island Breakfast, when Ron McLarty told a jam-packed hall that “reading has a deep hold on our imagination” and went on to describe literature as a “life raft,” I knew just what he meant!

What about you? When has literature served as a life raft for you? I’d love to hear about your experiences and, perhaps, share them in an upcoming newsletter.

Happy reading!

Bonnie Leonard EdD, CLC

P.S. I have now embarked on The Female Brain where the author, Louann Brizendine, M.D., uses a metaphorical approach to describe neuro-hormones. Who could resist her description of “Estrogen – the queen: powerful, in control, all-consuming, sometimes all business, sometimes aggressive seductress, friend of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, acetylcholine and norepinephrine (the feel-good brain chemicals)?”