The family reading circle

I come from a long line of readers. My dad reads several books and numerous magazines a week. When he comes to visit, he brings a stack of reading material to pass along.

My book reading has gone in cycles. As a preteen, I retreated into a world of books. In high school and college, reading for pleasure took a backseat to homework and choir rehearsals.

Now, as mom to a preschooler, I enjoy reading stories to my son, but also relish stolen moments alone with a novel.

Books enter our lives when we most need them. Last year, a friend's mother passed away suddenly, and her father sought refuge in books. At first, this alarmed my friend, when she saw her dad paying little attention to his family. But she understood that reading was his way of moving beyond the loss. When I asked recently how he was doing, she smiled and said, "Well, he's up to five books a week, but we see him more often."

Reading has become a shared pleasure between my dad and me. We're fortunate to have a number of interests in common. In the past few years, we've swapped books on Japanese geisha, Everest climbers, storms at sea, Civil War soldiers, and women onboard 19th-century sailing ships. It has brought us closer.

Of course, there are generational and gender differences. Dad, for example, did not care for "Memoirs of a Geisha," saying it had no moral center. But these differences of opinion make for excellent conversations.

Dad and I are also fans of railroading, so for Christmas I gave him two books on train lore. As quickly as Dad reads, I should see the books back to me in a month.

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