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Vivian Shapiro, a Woman Who Loves Books

The little girls in this photo are Vivian, on the right, and her sister Roslyn.

Their childhood home had a vast library and Vivian loved reading books.

Classics for Junior Readers, the eleven volumes of The Foundation Library for Young People and the family’s encyclopedia were among her childhood favorites.

“My father was a very accomplished man (lawyer, Member of Parliament for Ontario, the founder and first President of the Mt. Sinai Hospital, first violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra)  and he always encouraged my reading and learning as a child.

“So reading was something I always did.”

Vivian was so bright that she skipped grades in school.

She graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor of household science degree and worked as a dietitian till shortly after her marriage.  She and her husband Bud had three daughters.

Blog Photo - Vivian's Portrait

Daughter Arna, a retired English teacher and now  a writer and proofreader, read A Good Home and gave a copy to her mother.

“When I asked my Mom how she liked the book, she said it was one of the best she had ever read! And considering she had been reading for a good 90 years, that would be a lot of books!”

I gulped with delight and asked: “Why?

Vivian replied: “I can picture all of her houses – her descriptions are so vivid. I can still see the house up on a hill. It brought back memories of travelling in the Caribbean and different stages of my life.”

Vivian and Bud
Vivian and Bud on their 70th anniversary

“Two of the best things about books are that we can travel to different times and places through them, and we can learn something new with each one.”  

Vivian, Arna and granddaughter at 96th birthday party
Vivian at 96th birthday party with daughter Arna and granddaughter Heather

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is still one of Vivian’s all-time favorites.

Bud died a few years ago. At 96, and no longer able to walk, Vivian spends much of her time in her room.  Reading, she says, is “a wonderful diversion at this stage of life when outings and new experiences are limited.” 

While Arna was proofreading the manuscript for my second book (Beloved Gardens) she asked my permission to read the book to her mother. Of course, I agreed.

Arna reported:

“It gives me great pleasure to look at my Mom sitting in her wheelchair with a big smile on her face. Or sometimes she nods her agreement to whatever Cynthia wrote. 

“Sometimes she closes her eyes (still smiling) and I know that she is visualizing the scene. When I told her that the finished book would include lovely photos, she said that it didn’t really need pictures as she could see everything clearly just from the words. The book takes her on a journey in her mind.”  

Blog Photo - Vivian at 96

“These are the kind of books you can read over and over again,” says Vivian. “They make you smile and they make you cry. Because the book is so picturesque, I can think back and the memories are lovely.”

And you are the kind of reader authors love, Vivian!  Thank you most kindly for loving books, including mine.

36 thoughts on “Vivian Shapiro, a Woman Who Loves Books”

  1. A lovely story, i have library envy! I love books and am an avid reader, a vast library would be my idea of heaven!
    Jane x

    1. She’s lovely.
      And I can’t praise highly enough people who read to others. Well, you already know that! It’s so important for book lovers who – for one reason or the other – can’t read the print themselves.
      So Cheers also to Arna, her daughter.

  2. My grandmother was an avid reader until the day she died. When she started to not be able to see well, she would just get books in large print. The “Bookmobile” visited her nursing home weekly and they always held aside a few special ones for Grandma. I loved this story — makes me think of her.

    And you have a new book? Where? When? I must know!

    1. Not published yet! I’ll give you the details as soon as it is, Rosie. Hope you’re doing well. One day, I fully expect to be reading YOUR book.
      So nice to hear about your Grandma and her love of books. Thank you!

  3. Thanks, Cynthia for sharing Vivian. Your detetmination to use your blog as a platform to build up other people is quite noticeable and much appreciated.

    1. Thank you, Jim, for appreciating my posts. It matters.
      Truth is, I’m awestruck by how terrific some individuals are. I could have passed them on the street and never known that.
      But my books and this blog allow me to “meet people” like Vivian in a new way — and there are days where that is mighty important. It’s allowed me to also meet other bloggers like you, enjoy your lovely stories and know that you like mine. THANKS!

    1. Hi Amy:

      Arna, Vivian’s daughter, has huge numbers of family photos and is working on a story about Vivian and the other members of their exceptional family. I’m thankful that she shared these ones with us.

  4. Wow Vivian sounds cool. I think I could cope with most things so long as I could still read and remember enough to be able to follow a plot. Great story and good luck with the second book. 😉

    1. Thanks, MT and thanks.
      Best wishes to you on your new book. Have you been able to catch your breath? I can hardly wait to hear what the Pan of Hamgee is up to in this one.

      1. Thanks! The next one’s out in a couple of weeks. Then I can relax and watch the tumbleweed roll in! Phnark. Nah, book 3 is doing OK.



    1. Thanks, Clare. What a great compliment – to be in that group of wonderful people — like Vivian — that I find interesting. I’ll do my best to live up to it!!

    1. Thank you, Susan. Vivian is such an inspiration. To think that our words as writers can mean so much to another person. And that through those words, we can take a person out of a room, or a wheelchair and help them to go on adventures. What a lovely thought. Your poems must do that for a lot of people too.

      1. You are so right, Cynthia, about how our words can mean a lot to others and take them places they’ve never been, or only dream to be.

        I can only hope that my poems and stories can do the same.


  5. The Vivians of this world, whether 9 or 90, are who inspire us to write. You couldn’t receive better compliments than those given you by Vivian. And through your writing, I feel I know her a bit, too. Jeanne

    1. I’m glad you feel you know her a bit. I often read stories about authors, but I was very glad to do one about an avid reader. The people who love our books.

  6. Thank you for sharing this lovely lady with us. This story reminds me of my mum in England. She turns 90 this year and reads for several hours every day. She always calls me to tell me about something she has been reading and I love to share selections with her. Reading books is a wonderful way to connect.

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