The Bean Trees and Other Things

My Mother was a voracious reader. She loved it. In the morning we would begin our day by reading the local paper and end the day usually with a book in our hand.
As children she would read to us. She had this amazing ability to read a story while subtly adding her own commentary, just loud enough for us to hear. We would erupt in a fit of giggles and she would smile her mischievous grin before continuing. The books never changed but the way she told the story was anything but consistent. It was the anticipation, trying to guess how she would alter the characters or their dialogue, that I found most enjoyable.
Our love for reading never diminished. Even during our teens, when Josh and I were both busy juggling school, church and extra curricular activities, we were always reading something. I loved Victoria Holt while Joshie's favorite was Robert Jordan.
My Mother was always teasing me about my literary choices. She hated historical romances and couldn't understand why I didn't appreciate murder mysteries or medical mysteries more. I think Tony Hillerman was the first author I read that my Mom enjoyed. I remember how wonderful it was to discuss the characters, plot development and conclusion with her after I completed each book.
Although I still haven't read Robin Cook or Patricia Cornwell, as time progressed I did read other books she recommended and vice versa.
Our summers in Atlanta were spent by the pool reading, while our bodies baked in the sun. When we got too hot, we would lay aside our books and walk the shallow-end of the pool updating each other on our progress.
In the evenings we would walk the track and then peruse the library stacks for a new read. My Mother always used the local library. She rarely bought books and often nagged me about spending money on books that I could easily checkout from a library.
I have spent a lot of time reading since completing my graduate program and moving to Mississippi. Last night, as I often do on the weekends, I went to Barnes & Noble to find a new distraction. I recently finished my last Carol Goodman novel and wanted something a little different. I have been tempted to read books I remember my Mother enjoying before, but somehow felt it was too painful. However, passing a copy of Barbara Kingslover's The Bean Tree, a book my Mother loved, I thought, "Why not? Why not read a book my Mother liked?" So that is what I am reading now and so far, I like it. I'm not sure I completely relate to Taylor, the story's main character, but I like the idea of being an independent woman, who leaves everything familiar to her to find herself. In some ways I feel that is what I am doing here; finding myself and hopefully, when it's all said and done, I will find someone I like.

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2 comments:

Kate said...

I am a fan of Barbara Kingsolver books. I think I've read most of them. Hope you enjoy the story. The sequel isn't bad either.

Desiree said...

Your stories made me smile. I could totally picture your mom doing those things. I'm glad you bought the book and gave it a try. I need to find more good books to read and it sounds like you're the person I should be talking to. :)

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