Books and My Moral Dilemma

English: All 24 John Griham novels as of June ...

I remember the first time I did it. You do it once and you can never go back.

It was a John Grisham novel – The Firm. We were living in Cairo and my husband was traveling. I had little kids — four at the time. I had bathed, storied, and kissed them and as I passed bedrooms I could hear their soft, rhythmic, innocent breathing.

This was My time.

I lay in bed and picked up the book. The only reason I hadn’t read during the day was time. And now I had time.

I began reading. And I read, and I read, and I read some more. I was deeper and deeper into the novel. I knew it was late but I avoided the clock. When I finally looked, it was already 2 in the morning. I knew I had to go to sleep. But I also had to know the end. I had to. I couldn’t stay up reading — I was single parenting, making sure four children were where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there. But I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t know what happened. Would the lawyer and his wife make it?

It was a moral dilemma. I knew that ‘real book lovers’ don’t read the end of books. I knew it was a moral code that could mark me for a long time.

So I did the unthinkable – I skipped to the end. I read the end of the book.

Even now I feel the shame of it, the magnitude of that one act, that one time. Because I knew if I could do it once – I’d do it again. And maybe again. And then maybe I’d do it one more time…..

I would be whispered about and bear the shame and humiliation of being one of ‘those’ people, one who reads the end of books. “Who does that? Who reads the end of books?” would be the conversation and I would shake my head and say “I don’t know! Who does that?” While inside I would hang my head and pray they never found out.

What about you? Have you ever skipped to the end of a book? Did you break the unspoken law of book reading? Tell all through the comments.


Readers – Today Communicating Across Boundaries celebrates 1000 posts! You helped this milestone happen by reading, contributing guest posts, and interacting with pieces that you read, posts that resonated in your heart and soul. Thank you! Here’s to 1000 more! (If blogging even continues as a ‘thing’, right?!)


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For the Love of Libraries



It was my sister-in-law who taught me to love libraries. I can see her to this day, curled on the cushions in the children’s section of the Cairo American College Library. She had a toddler on her lap and a pre-schooler beside her and she was reading Miss Rumphius. I was glued to the scene. I wanted to be her. I wanted to sit curled up on those cushions with my kids reading library books forever. I don’t know why it took me so long to love libraries, but once I learned I never looked back.

Not surprisingly Miss Rumphius became one of my favorite children’s books. Years later, one of my close friends became the librarian of that section of the library. She found her niche among Miss Rumphius, Stargirl and many more excellent books for younger audiences.

Periodically I would receive notes from one of my kids “going to the library after school” – it wasn’t a place of punishment, it was a place and space of comfort.

In moving from Cairo this year, my daughter Annie had ‘Get a library card’ at the top of her to-do list. It was crossed off quickly.

So when Room for Debate in the New York Times asked the question “Do we still need libraries?” Scissors went through my heart.


Who would even ask that stupid question?

Of course we need libraries. Libraries are necessary to a functional community. Libraries are reading places, meeting places, resting places, learning places, writing places, necessary spaces!

If you want to question the importance of libraries just talk to people who have lived for long periods of time in countries without a public library system. They’ll tell you what it’s like to long for that space, those shelves of books, that quiet. They’ll tell you how they begin their own forms of libraries through borrowing the books of friends, through developing small loaning libraries in a tiny room in a church, they’ll tell you how they bought the Kindle, NOT because they like electronic media, but because they love books and had a limited luggage allowance that had to include baby paraphernalia and other essentials, leaving some of the essential books behind.

I was told once that the biggest consumers of the New York Public Library system are immigrants. I believe it. For when you’ve lived without, you don’t take for granted a system like libraries.

So why is it even a question?

Because libraries, though free to us, are not free. They take upkeep, good staff, an incoming supply of books. They may be public, but they are not free. And judging from the various perspectives in the Room for Debate article, libraries have had to reconsider their function. They have had to address the need and importance of computer and internet access, speak into the digital world of e-books. In many ways they have had to be reinvented.

Luis Herrera, city librarian of San Francisco says this: “Libraries are more relevant than ever. They are a place for personal growth and reinvention, a place for help in navigating the information age, a gathering place for civic and cultural engagement and a trusted place for preserving culture. While the technology for accessing library materials has changed and will continue to change, our mission – to inform, to share and to gather – will not.”

It is Matthew Battle, author of Library: An Unquiet History, who worded it best in Room for Debate:

“In their long history, libraries have been models for the world and models of the world; they’ve offered stimulation and contemplation, opportunities for togetherness as well as a kind of civic solitude. They’ve acted as gathering points for lively minds and as sites of seclusion and solace. For making knowledge and sharing change, we still need such places — and some of those, surely, we will continue to call ‘the library.'”

So what do you think? What is your experience in and with libraries? And do we still need them? Discuss!

Finding My Summer Book

Every summer one book emerges as “the book” of the summer. Last year it was The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit and the year before it was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. These books cut through the ordinary and take me to a world where I sit, grow, laugh, cry and emerge wishing they would last longer.

It’s not that these are the only books I read during the summer, rather they mix in with several, but while others may fly past my eyes and through my head with a laugh, blink and smile, these captivate my mind and capture my heart.

And this summer, without reading a page, I think I may have already found “the book”.  Called Novel Destinations, this book looks like a reader and traveler’s delight. It promises to take me through the homes, places and spaces of authors like Mark Twain and Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and the Bronte sisters. It sounds like the perfect marriage for those who love both travel and literature.

The web site gives this invitation: Embark on the literary grand tour of a lifetime with Novel Destinations as your guide to the famed haunts, homes, and watering holes where beloved authors, from Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters to John Steinbeck and Mark Twain, sought solace and found inspiration. Sure to spark the imaginations of armchair bibliophiles and seasoned travelers alike are the hundreds of literary-themed activities featured in the pages of Novel Destinations,

I’ve ordered mine so stay tuned for a review. I look forward to immersing myself in Novel Destinations and dreaming of my next trip while basking in a space where it is always ten minutes before two in the afternoon.

So….during a season where we can traditionally kick off our shoes and sit awhile, what’s on your reading list? Do you have “a summer book” or do you fly through books, one after the other without needing to settle on a favorite? Would love to hear through the comments!

For more information on this book, take a look at the blog

A note about So.Many.Stories – if you have submitted an article to So.Many.Stories – please forgive my delay. I’ve received some great submissions and will be in touch with people as to when they will post. Thank you for your patience!

And the Winners Are…..

Sophie Blanc from Australia for her two entries – they hit at the heart of this blogger and her daughter!

Desperately seeking: job requiring extensive travel.
Desperate housewife: has kids will travel.

Second prize goes to:

Wilma Brown from the United Kingdom for her entry that gives a picture of sweet romance, champagne and deep love:

Outside theatre – Warm smile; Love forever.

The runner-up prize goes to Ed Brown from Madison, Wisconsin for this entry:

Connection Ecstasy: Bags won’t make it. They did!

Thanks to all for entering and stay tuned to this blog for more of the same. Winners – I will be contacting you by email with your prizes!