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The Reader and the Writer

My grandmother was a capital-r Reader. If there were prizes for book consumption, she could have contended for top honors. She was happiest, she always said, with a stack of books beside her chair. Sometimes she even read two at a time (shocking!).She was a homebody in her later years, and I was her main book supplier. Usually, I read the books I chose for her: Catherine Cookson, Maeve Binchy, and anything with a bit of nineteenth-century hardship and a splash of romance. None of the modern stuff appealed to her, but a tale in which a family had to share a single potato beside a fire about to flicker out in midwinter--now that floated her boat. She'd often say, "What's wrong with me that I like people starving and suffering in my stories?" And we'd laugh--because it was true.Sometimes she'd write little notes and tape them to the books before returning them: Very Good. Good. A little steamy! Loved, loved, loved! I still have some of these little scraps. I oug…

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