Rediscover Reading on National Reading Day


“From an early age, books were my constant companions and my local library a place I could find a new friend on every shelf.” –Sarah Jessica Parker

I cannot recall a time when I did not enjoy reading.

My mom introduced me to books at an early age, and I lost myself in them. I traveled from my small towns in Texas and Louisiana to faraway places and times. My dad coached high school basketball, and we moved four times between first and seventh grade. I found it far easier to learn the location of the library than to make friends my age. Furthermore, books are far more welcoming of strangers than are school children.

Laura Ingalls Wilder captured my imagination and became a constant companion. I joined her family as they traveled west and followed her coming of age throughout the “Little House on the Prairie” series. My favorites include “Little House on the Prairie” and “These Happy Golden Years.” I read these books countless times and learned something new about Laura and myself with each reading.

This spirited young woman shaped my style as a writer with her simple yet vivid descriptions of everyday life for her family.

In the fourth grade, I asked to read Margaret Mitchell’s epic “Gone with the Wind.”  Initially, my teacher and the librarian vehemently denied my request. After a consultation with my mom, they relented. I dove into Scarlett’s world, still young and naive enough to overlook those parts of it inappropriate for a fourth-grader. Yet, I was mature enough to see the problems faced by many in the South and to be troubled by those inequities. As an adult, I know that appreciating a book does not condone its contents, and my tattered edition remains a prized possession.

Over my high school and college years, I read everything in my path: textbooks, novels, classics, newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, and so on. They all run together. The next great impression came with the Harry Potter series. Before these, the only fantastical books I enjoyed were “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.” I read that series reluctantly after enjoying the movie far more than I expected.

I picked up the first Rowling book to see if it lived up to all the fuss.

Initially, I felt embarrassed by how much I enjoyed these books. At the time, my children were young and not an excuse for my interest in these books. Rowling captivated my imagination with her clever characters. Ultimately the age-old battle of good versus evil and the maturation of the characters over time drew me in. I sobbed like a baby near the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” I won’t say why. Just in case you live under a rock and have not read it. Read them, alone, with, or to your children.

After the Potter series, my reading for enjoyment tapered off for many years. Managing our home, raising children, driving carpool consumed my time. Reading was not for my personal enjoyment; it was to a child or to help a child. Two books from that reading drought stuck with me: “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. While very different, both are poignant examples of love in children’s and teen literature.

Over the last few years, with three of my children either in college or adulting, I rediscovered my old passion.

I participated in the 2021 Reading Challenge on Goodreads, exceeded my goals, and added new favorites to my “friends” list. I find new books via the Pensacola Mom Collective Book Club group on Facebook, friends’ recommendations, and ReadwithJenna on Instagram.

My favorite find from my renewed relationship with reading is “The Dearly Beloved” by Cara Wall. The story follows two couples, their individual relationships, and friendship throughout their adult lives. The story moved me and encouraged me to be there in the hard for my spouse and my friends, to have the hard conversations, and not walk away. I recommend this book every chance I get.

What books am I reading right now?

“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott to help me hone my writing skills. Then, for fun, “The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line” by Major General Mari K Eder. The stories of female war heroes inspire me and lead me to search for more untold stories of bravery. Join the PMC Book Club in March to discuss the Eder book. It is an excellent read documenting the heroic WWII adventures of some amazing young women, and you can pick it up and put it down over time without losing any sense of the story.

I hope you will find time to begin or renew your relationship with reading in honor of National Reading Day.

Always in search of my next book, please share what you are reading right now or some of your favorite books.


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