The other day at work, I had the delightful experience of talking with a new co-worker and realizing that within the last 6 months, we had read the same four books. (One of them was The Golem and the Jinni, which I reviewed earlier.) Within moments of meeting, we were swapping book titles with enthusiasm. By the end of our conversation, I felt like I knew her better than some of the coworkers I had spent hours talking with.
I think every reader needs someone whose book reviews they trust implicitly; the person they text as soon as they find a new series or finish a final, lovely page. For me, that someone is my Dad.
It’s natural for my dad to be my go-to reading companion, because he was the one who drew me to reading in the first place. Every night, Dad would read aloud to the whole family. (Thankfully, there were still kids in my house once I graduated from childhood, so I could casually hang out in their rooms and listen to him read while pretending to do homework.)
My dad loves the fantastic, the unusual, the surprising. He loves good ideas and funny villains. He enjoys stories of decent men and women, and appreciates beautiful writing. He read us Roald Dahl and the Chronicles of Narnia, all of the Little House on the Prairie books, Tarzan, Llyod Alexander’s Taran Wanderer series, E.B. White, the Hobbit, The Little Prince. He translated a book of silly French stories to us on the fly, the original French leaving him laughing so hard that he could hardly read. He read us Tintin and Asterix and Obelix. He loved Lord of the Rings, and graciously welcomed the Lord of the Rings original Hildebrandt paraphernalia we flooded him with every Christmas.
The other day, I found a copy of The Once and Future King by T.H.White at a thrift store for .75 cents. As I read it, I was flooded with memories of my father reading the story to me as a child; I found myself anticipating the events moments before they happened, and hearing my dad’s silly British accent every time King Pellinore spoke. As a 26 year old, The Once and Future King felt like hot tea and homemade bread in the winter; at once nostalgic and tremendously satisfying. It was astounding that one book from childhood could bring so much richness to me twenty years later.
My father’s gift of words is one I can never repay, only pass on to my children. Even though Dad and I live far away from each other now, we still send a weekly text about a book one of us has just finished that the other would enjoy. Recently it was The Night Circus, Cinnamon and Gunpower, and A Curse as Dark as Gold.
It goes without saying that his suggestions get priority at the very top of my reading list.