A Good Home, Aging, Authors, Book lovers, Books, Children's Books, elderly Parents, Parents, Reading, Relationships

Please Read to Me

Lee Gowan, author of Confession and other novels,  lives in Toronto, while his mother lives in western Canada. Time spent with her is very precious to Lee.

One day several months ago, Lee and I were part of a small group of writers invited to read excerpts from our books and chat with an audience in a large Toronto bookstore.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Out of the blue, Lee said something that moved me nearly to tears. (That’s Lee, extreme right, and that’s me, third from left, trying to compose my face — and failing.)

Lee told the audience that he’d read A Good Home to his mother.  She’d loved it, he said.   Day after day, he read the book to her.  They laughed together at some of the comical parts.  And at certain points, Lee said, he and his mother were both so choked up with emotion that he had to stop reading for a bit.

As Lee spoke, the image formed in my mind: of an adult child reading to a parent.

agoodhome_cynthiareyesWhy did I find that a remarkable thing?  Well – for one thing –  my relationship with my own mother is one of the major themes in A Good Home. But she died before the book was completed.  As Lee spoke, I realized that I’d never get the chance to read the book to my own beloved mother – who’d always encouraged my writing.

I also knew that Lee’ s mother’s health was already declining — and I felt happy that he had been able to read my book to his mother while she could still enjoy it.

**

We know that children love to be read to.  We read books to our children when they are young.  They clamour for more, even when their eyes are full of sleep.

via childcarealgoma.ca
via childcarealgoma.ca

But sometimes we forget that many adults – especially elderly people – like to be read to as well.

Letters and cards from readers of A Good Home have reminded me of this fact.  It turns out that a good many people have read my book – or parts of it — to a parent, other relative or friend.

Reading is a cherished past-time for many people.  Mother’s Day in Canada, the US and many other parts of the world is just around the corner and Father’s Day follows in June.  If your Mom or Dad (or favorite older relative or friend) is still alive, you might consider buying them a book.

Most people prefer to read a book by themselves — and it’s great if they are still able to do so.   Others would like to, but can no longer do so.  Whatever the situation,  consider offering to read a chapter of a favorite book to a relative or friend. Whether or not they need the help, the sound of a beloved voice reading to them might just be a balm to a person’s soul.

 **

 This post is dedicated to everyone who loves reading, or being read to.  And to those who read to others.

 

 

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A Good Home, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Great books, Libraries, New Category Nam

Red Shoes At The Library

The woman at the London Public Library wore red.

Red shoes.

She was supposed to attend another event that evening, but came to my book reading at the library, wearing her red shoes. It was a direct reference to a highly charged passage about red shoes in my book, A Good Home.  It was also a sign of camaraderie and support to an author whom she’d never met.

Image via: Google Images
Image via: Google Images

 

She was not the only person who had already read the book. There were several in the room, including library professional Jacqui Denomme. Exactly one year before this event, Jacqui, who works with the London Public Library, read my short story (about two much-loved homes) in the Globe and Mail newspaper. She immediately wrote a letter of praise about the story to the editor. That letter was passed on to me.

Through the months leading up to the publication of A Good Home, Jacqui and I kept in touch by email. When the book was released, she was one of the first people to read it. She then showed it to her supervisor, Elizabeth Egleston.

I therefore should not have been surprised that the first library to order the book was the London Public Library.

“You’ve started a trend,” I told Jacqui and Elizabeth. “More and more libraries in Canada have now ordered copies of A Good Home.”

A Good Home - A memoir by Cynthia Reyes
A Good Home – A memoir by Cynthia Reyes

Libraries have meant a lot to me since childhood. And decades later, my local public library became one of the few places I visited repeatedly in the years after the car accident. At a time when I had difficulty walking, talking and when even trying to read a book gave me blinding headaches, the librarians there guided me to audio books.

When I started reading books again, they often helped me choose. Some days, when I stumbled into the library, mumbling incoherently,  two librarians rushed to help me at once. And so, when A Good Home was finally published, my husband and I brought a copy of the book for each librarian, with heartfelt thank-you notes.

Knowing how much libraries had helped me, I wanted my book to be in libraries. With this strong desire, and my close connection to public libraries, I was thrilled when the invitation came from the London Public Library.

On September 25, my husband and I traveled to London for the reading at the Stoney Creek branch of the London Public Library. We met Jacqui and Elizabeth in person for the first time.

I started the session by reading the short story from the Globe that had started the connection between the LPL and me.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange

Just minutes earlier, Jean, an audience member, had stuck out her feet, clad in pretty red shoes for me and everyone else to see. Somehow, those red shoes and Jacqui’s warm introduction kicked off the event in just the right way.

It was a perfect evening.

My thanks to Jacqui and Elizabeth, to Jean (and her red shoes), and all the patrons and local residents who came out to meet me, buy my book, and hear me read.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange

The evening reinforced my impression that the best of these events are a true give-and-take between author and readers. It was a terrific discussion, and I appreciated both the laughter and the moving comments  that were made about homes and family relationships.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange – Photo shows Jacqui Denomme on right

p.s. If A Good Home isn’t in your local library, please ask the librarian to bring it in.  I’ve found that libraries are very helpful in bringing in books for their patrons.