Long ago in my youth, I can remember summer days with no place to go, no one to play with and nothing better to do than run my finger across all the spines of the books on our shelves trying to determine which one to read next. Often, Nancy Drew would lure me with the thrill of yet another mystery to solve. I would stretch out on the sofa, pillow behind my head, book in the air, and spend all afternoon helping Nancy figure out The Mystery of the Hidden Staircase or The Secret of the Old Clock. When I had gone through all of our books, I would climb the steps of the bookmobile when it stopped in front of our house and find another mystery to solve. Nancy and I solved quite a few puzzles those summers.
My taste wasn’t limited to Nancy’s adventures and soon Barnabas Collins stepped into my library and I met a whole new group of people some of whom only came out at night. Collinwood, the mansion, was frequented by various related people who had their own quirks – full moons, sunlight, mysterious pasts, and nefarious connections. For a mere 50 cents, I could venture into their world and come out safely on the other side having figured out how to survive a visit to Collinwood. (The secret seems to be that you’re pretty much safe in the daytime.) Poor ol’ Barnabas never could keep a girlfriend.
My youthful reading pursuits also included a selection of books about dogs – heroic dogs, kidnapped dogs, funny dogs, and how to get your dog to do tricks. For a while, I read about handwriting analysis and writing in secret code. A few classics made their way into my bookish pursuits, probably due to a school assignment, but some of them I came to love.
Nowadays, most of the time, I have a book that lies marked beside my chair or on the kitchen counter or under the fur on my desk or in the car or some other place where I have laid it down when I had to stop reading to do something infinitely more important. I try desperately not to get too involved in a book when I have a show coming up and there’s work to be done, but I do like to take them with me when we go. It makes the ride shorter and sometimes, traffic bearable. I finished one on our trip to Baltimore and now I’m ready to welcome summer reading weather. For me, that means an almost perfect combination of warm days, a light breeze, and a bit of sunshine. My front porch is waiting.