Our Sunday Guest, A Book.   Leave a comment

As a kid, reading a book was an overwhelming challenge.  I entered High School on a 4th grade reading level.  Fortunately, that was not acceptable to my 9th grade English teacher, Barbara Davis Kerbel.  Miss Davis took my hand, encouraged me along, delivered me up to grade level and beyond; and opened up the Universe to me.  No more Dick and Jane.  Who cares what Spot is fetching, now?  Good Bye, Nancy Drew.  I was reading The Hobbit, Gray’s Anatomy and Walt Whitman.  I went to Walden, into The Ring Trilogy and ran smack into my kindred sister, Emily Dickinson; all before I left Miss Davis’ class.  I fell in love with reading, the instant connection to (what seemed to be) EVERYTHING and the power of the book; itself.  Holding a book, for the first time, whether old or new, its look, feel, design, subject, fragrance and history unfolding in my very hands, bringing the answers to my questions, causing new questions, wondering who else has held this very same book, and who will read it next; is a delight I will always savor.  I admit it, I am a bookophile, a readaholic; and, as such, make no apologies.

 Back in the late 60s, books were not so flashy.  To own a book was a privilege; as it was to borrow one.  My father was always a big reader; and a strict disciplinarian.  Dad instilled, early, in us, the value and care of the book; wash your hands before touching any (of his) books, never turn page corners (or death will be the result), never mark a book, in any way, never eat and read, sit up straight, use the dictionary (which he unmercifully lorded over), turn on the light, don’t move, don’t breath, just read.  His rules were so intimidating I was afraid to touch a damned book!  It was, also, difficult to concentrate as he usually had The Marine Corps Marching Band or Bach or Bagpipes blasting from the Victrola!  Although I could spend hours, absorbing the photos, between the pages of his National Geographics!  Thank Goodness for Miss Davis and her infectious, bookish ways!

 At the (arrogant) age of 15, I decided I was going to read every book in the library.  Forty two years later, I’m still working on it!  Right now my focus is on learning more about trees, mushrooms, Philip K. Dick, the alkaloids, endosymbiotic theory, string theory, meteorites, evolutionary tactics and Russian poetry.  This brings me to the subject of this post.  Standing in front of the 580s shelves, in the library, is like standing in a bakery; for me.  So, last week, I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and fought gluttony; determined to pick just one book, on trees.  In the midst of the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of spines, one stood out, a stout, pale, spine, with simple blue lettering;


 The praise on the back cover assured me that, indeed, this was a good place to begin to know trees, better.

 Reading Colin Tudge will make you smile; as it’s like having a conversation with a witty, loving, intuitively intellectual friend.  Tudge takes learning out of the textbook into the heart.  He answers the next question; just as it is about to be asked.  The Tree takes us, methodically, down to the cellular level, from the roots up, around the entire plant and animal kingdoms and straight through ourselves.  Thanks to Colin Tudge, I understand all of life more deeply, in a fresh and delightful way.  And, best of all, I want to learn more, and look forward to reading more of his work.

 It’s an incredible juxtaposition, reading Colin Tudge, and Philip K. Dick.  A head full of botany and prophetic sci-fi opens a worm hole in my imagination, ignites a plethora of questions and possibilities, and leads me to another book!

 Now, please do yourself a favor; turn off your computer, and go read a book.  Read this book.  Read any book.  Shut down Facebook and go put your face in a real book.  Reading a book is good medicine.  For a moment, any moment, You choose, all there is, belongs to You, and you alone, as you hold it in your hands and connect with someone else, in another place and time, You become an astronaut, an anthropologist, a grand poetess, You can bend the laws of physics, chase inclement weather,  or a herd of reindeer and be back in time for dinner.  Don’t worry, the internet will still be here.  If you need more ideas, please see the list below, of Colin Tudge’s other works (2), or my Suggested Reading page (3), or, better still, just go to the library!     

                       Let’s keep books alive.                       

 Thanx for stopping by. See you next time.

Just click on any photo, to enlarge.



 THE TREE, Colin Tudge,

      CROWN, Random House,   2005, 2006





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