My love of books really started with meeting Peggy Vikingson, our new librarian in the fourth grade. She had me read Stephen Meader’s Guns for the Saratoga, an adventure story about revolutionary times. It was my first adult book and I was surprised at how I loved it. Soon the whole Meader series was read and my relationship with Mrs. Vikingson blossomed into a lifetime friendship. It was a relationship I desperately needed. She guided my reading—and my life—through the eighth grade.
Reading voraciously was not well appreciated at home and the butt of family jokes and concerns about “living in the real world.” Truly I was the poster child for that research we are all familiar with about kids raised in traumatic circumstances. Those who find deep attachment outside the family can find the resilience to overcome the obstacles mounted in front of them. Mrs. Vikingson was one of the relationships that saved me. And the vehicle we had was talking about books. Those conversations led to talking about everything else. Even today I have some self-consciousness about how much I love to read and think about the writing of others. Some times the twenty some books I will have written by the end of this year seem presumptuous. The idea of inhabiting the world of the written world at times still presents echoes of those family rules about being “too educated.”
Some years back I took the risk of recording my thoughts of books not directly related to clinical matters. And we published them. People seemed to enjoy the comments which resulted in letters and some friendships. The staff suggested a monthly book club built around my response to recent books and how they might inform clinicians and be helpful to recovering people. I have agreed to try this format and look forward to the venture. However, I may periodically have to banish some ghosts of the past into their appropriate corners of residence.
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