Rediscovering “a good read”

October 21, 2009

By Rosemary Dorsa, vice president for partnerships and strategic initiatives at the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Inc., and current Indiana Humanities Council chair-elect.

As a kid I read like crazy – The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys – all the serial books, regardless of gender-targeting.   I loved going to the library and taking out a stack of books.  The scent of old paper, the smooth slide of the card catalog drawer (yes! the card catalog) were wonderful.  Some favorites I would re-read often.   I read The Swiss Family Robinson every summer for at least five years, much to my family’s amusement.  In college, I would always treat myself to a big, fat novel the minute finals were over.

In recent years, perhaps influenced by the 24-hour news cycle and the constant barrage of information, I have gravitated more toward non-fiction.  I’ve read lots of history, politics, social commentary, economics, etc.   While I’ve learned a lot and would make a good Jeopardy contestant, it’s only been the past few months that I realize how long it’s been since I have savored a really great “can’t-put-it-down-lose-yourself in the story” book.  And so, I am now on a quest to rediscover the pleasure of “a good read.”

I had attended two really great events in the past months which have assisted my quest.  The Indiana Humanities Council hosted two author panels last week at the Meredith Nicholson Home in conjunction with the Bouchercon Mystery Conference.  This was a very special opportunity to be part of exclusive, intimate talk with seven nationally-acclaimed mystery authors.  It was such a delightful evening of animated, spirited interchange among the panelists and with the attendees and it exposed to authors I had not read.  I picked up several books, including Hallie Ephron’s Never Tell a Lie which I started reading that evening.  It is a terrific book with a really strong narrative where each chapter draws you into the next.  I am now about to start on Charles Todd’s A Test of Wills, which is the first in series of mysteries, set in England between the world wars.  I was intrigued to find out that “Charles Todd” is actually Charles and Caroline Todd, a mother-son writing duo.

The other event was the inaugural Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Awards dinner, very appropriately held in the beautiful Indianapolis-Marion County Central Library.  Nine Indiana authors were recognized for their contributions to the literary landscape in Indiana and across the nation.  I left with several books, and have finished Dear Mrs. Lindbergh by Kathleen Hughes.

And while I am enjoying discovering new books, I must confess that I still like rereading some old favorites.  The other day in an airport I picked up East of Eden by the incomparable John Steinbeck, which means I will soon be on to my favorite book of all time, Theodore Dreisier’s An American Tragedy.  Now that’s “a good read.”

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