In this space in our previous issue, I mentioned some interesting book experiences that I would write about another time. That time is now.
But let’s go back a little further than a few weeks ago.
I fell in love with books at a young age –around age 3. I have a photo of me at that age sitting on our porch with a stack of Little Golden Books clutched in my arms.
Before I started first grade, my older brother taught me how to read from his first-grade Dick, Jane and Sally books from 10 years prior. I loved those books!
When I started first grade, and got my own Dick, Jane and Sally book, I was in heaven! But my teacher, Mrs. Rampey (who had also been my brother’s teacher 10 years before) suspected that I had simply memorized them. She gave me lower grades for half the year because of it. I’ve always wondered, if she thought I couldn’t really read, why didn’t she give me a second grade book to read?
For many years, reading was my most favorite thing to do. I read everything I could get my hands on. With my library card, that meant a lot of books. I asked for books for Christmas and birthdays, and I got them – from Dr. Suess to Beverly Cleary to New York Times bestsellers.
Reading took a back seat to other activities over my young adult years, but later, when I had children, it came back full force. Reading to my children was one of the greatest joys of life. They, too, could read well by the time they got to first grade.
Fast forward to the present, when reading is something I wish I had more time to pursue.
The cool book experience I mentioned in my last column was my first Book Club Convention, hosted by the Pat Conroy Literary Center, at the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s Culinary Institute (thank you, Jonathan Haupt, for the invitation!). I met many women and a few men who devour books like a grand meal. I met a couple of authors who made us laugh and made us think. They inspired me as well.
First up was Dorothy St. James, author of a number of books, including the soon to be released (Nov. 1) “A Book Club to Die For.” St. James loves libraries too, she said. She said they were an important part of her childhood, offering new adventures with each book.
St. James read a passage from her newest tome that had the crowd in stitches. I might have guffawed at the visual I was getting about the scene she painted with her words.
The other inspiring author was Ms. Emily Meggett, the “matriarch of Edisto Island” and author of “Gullah Geechee Home Cooking,” a cookbook published this year that seems to serve as a history of her life. Ms. Emily, who was described as “just shy of 90,” had some stories to tell, and with each one, a lesson on life.
In that session, she talked us through her way of making biscuits and her famous red rice. Part of the instruction about the rice was in stirring it: “Start at the end of the pot with the spoon and draw it to ya. If that rice come to ya fast, you need more rice. If it come to ya slow, it’s right.”
Her book sold out before I got to the table, but I’ll be getting one soon. And you can bet I’ll be at a bookstore on Nov. 1 to pick up St. James’ new book as well.
It’s time for me to get back to my first love.