People read for many different reasons. Early in life, we actually use books to learn to read, and then, ironically, we continue on, to read to learn.
When I was growing up, there wasn’t a very wide breadth of children’s books that we were encouraged to read for our own entertainment.
Fairy tales figured prominently in my young life, but I do not recall my two brothers having any sort of counterpart to that. It seems from my limited memory, books for children were aimed more at girls – but that might have just been the culture in our home. While my brothers were more grounded in playing all manner of ballgames, I was often curled up with a book that was usually based on magic of some kind and always ended well. I mean, always.
As I entered grammar school, reading was still often limited to school books, with one very memorable fourth-grade immersion in “Charlotte’s Web” (Harper & Brothers, 1952) by E.B. White, which my teacher read aloud to my class every day after recess. That was my first sad story from a book. It wasn’t until junior high that I received a proper introduction to literature. And then the world opened up in ways that continue to change me.
Apart from educational reading, nowadays I read to be transported – to a good place, mostly. I look for a story, real or imagined, that adds something positive to my life. Happy books – considered mental pablum by many – are not easy to find outside of mindless romances and the occasional mystery novel.
According to the website Goodreads.com, two “happy ending” books are “Garden Spells” (Bantam, 2007) by Sarah Addison Allen and “The Shepherd’s Song (Howard Books, 2014) by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers. I also greatly enjoyed the New York Times best-seller “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (Dial Press, 2008) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I include the riveting book “The Testament” (Doubleday, 1999) by John Grisham on my list of all-time enjoyable and inspiring books.
I would have to list just about any book about a dog – but be warned, they almost always die. Even so, the unconditional love that our pets bring into our lives is always worth revisiting. Some of my favorites include “Marley and Me” (William Morrow, 2005) by John Grogan (also an enjoyable movie), “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog” (Harcourt, 2007) by Ted Kerasote and “Hachi,” which has been written in many versions by a variety of authors but is probably best enjoyed as a movie starring Richard Gere.
Spring is here and “vacation reads” are just around the corner. I’ll keep my eye out for you – well, those of you who want to feel good. The rest of you are on your own for murder and mayhem. You can always start where 90 percent of the population goes for recommendations – virtually any best-seller list. I’m just saying … clearly, I am all alone here in my bubble, but the sky is always blue, and the flowers smell pretty, and I can eat whatever I want and never get fat – way better than reality.
Sharon Lennox-Infante is a Certified Life coach who lives and works in Los Altos. For more information, visit sharonlennox.com.