Who would we be without the Book People in our lives? The ones who introduced us, prodded us, encouraged us to make all the many gains in life that could be ours—through reading.
My first Book Person was my father. After selling encyclopedias door to door as a young man, he made sure there were plenty of them in our home. The book case in the living room held full sets of Encyclopedia Britannica, The World Book Encyclopedia and The Book of Knowledge. When we had a question, my dad’s reply was often ‘Go look it up’. Which we did. My big brother, Bill, took one book to bed with him each night, reading them one by one, all the way through – 3 sets with about 10 books in each. No wonder he’s so smart.
Next was the librarian at the elementary school. She had a way of watching the students as they roamed among the stacks and seemed to be able to read our interest and guide us to the right place. She sent me to a collection of blue book biographies of American Women. I’ve wandered all over the internet trying to locate this set, but so far it is filed only in the Dewey Decimal System of my memory. Following her instructions, I turned into my brother, checking the books out one by one, reading all of them. That librarian wanted me to know that even women could achieve great things. I wish I could thank her.
In high school I discovered both reading and writing were my passions, and so majored in English in college, reading up to 5 assigned books in a week for my classes. I took semester long seminars on single authors, reading everything written by Mark Twain and John Steinbeck—Steinbeck is the better writer. The Book People professors overseeing all of these classes and projects were right there, helping with interpretation, offering supporting historical documents and pieces of art to flesh out the authors’ perspectives. As a thesis, I wrote an annotated bibliography of William Faulkner, reading everything he ever wrote, and the literary criticism on each book, which I then compiled into a summary. I thought if I could understand what the heck Faulker was writing about, I could understand anything.
Maybe, with the ongoing help of the Book People, I can.