The au­thor of “Glit­ter & Glue” re­mem­bers Mom, read­ing.

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY KELLY COR­RI­GAN book­world@wash­ Kelly Cor­ri­gan is the au­thor of the mem­oirs “Glit­ter and Glue,” “Lift” and “The Mid­dle Place.”

Other sum­mer read­ers find a park or a broad oak, maybe a ham­mock for the young at heart. It mat­ters not. The com­forts are mostly in­tel­lec­tual.

Ah, July. Here ap­proaches sum­mer, for me No. 47, when work feels vaguely op­tional and the evening light stretches close to 9 p.m. When kids are wiped out, sticky with Pop­si­cle juice and sweat, and the voices of third-base coaches and teenage boys in cannonball con­tests min­gle in the thick air, and books swell to play a big­ger part of our lives.

The first sum­mer reader I ever knew was my mother, circa 1975.

Search­ing for her on the well-pop­u­lated shores of Avalon, N. J., I zero in on the back of a striped can­vas chair sit­ting low on the beach. Above it hovers a cu­mu­lus of yel­lowy cot­ton­candy hair gen­tly topped with a broad wo­ven vi­sor, dyed laven­der. A cig­a­rette hangs from my mother’s fin­gers, the smoke barely per­cep­ti­ble in the bright light. Her lips, as well as the nails of her fin­gers and toes, are coated with her sig­na­ture color: salmon, a Revlon shade she com­mit­ted to in 1974 and never sec­ondguessed. Next to her sits a large tote from a Hearst sales con­fer­ence my fa­ther at­tended and on her lap, a hard­cover. The crin­kle of the plas­tic jacket pro­tec­tor mixes with the white noise of drowsy waves rolling in be­low her. The edges where she holds the novel are smudged with co­conut oil; the ’70s beach cul­ture has yet to know SPF 50. As she reads, her feet tun­nel into the warm white sand seek­ing out the cooler, darker stuff she knows is there.

Af­ter that one glo­ri­ous week at the beach, she’s pool­side with “The Joy Luck Club” as I take div­ing lessons, or court­side with “The Bean Trees” while my brother fin­ishes ten­nis prac­tice, or, if the heat is per­fectly dis­gust­ing, in her Oldsmobile wagon with “Beloved,” lean­ing back in the front seat, ev­ery air con­di­tion­ing vent di­rected for her re­lief alone.

Other sum­mer read­ers find a park or a broad oak, maybe a ham­mock for the young at heart. Or a yard chair that they meant to re­place or a twin bed with un­even springs or a bench that’s been graf­fi­tied. It mat­ters not. The com­forts are mostly in­tel­lec­tual.

Forty years later, a writer of books my­self, here’s what I have to the say to the lot of them:

To the sum­mer reader who snorts with laugh­ter at Tom Per­rotta, Tina Fey and P. J. O’Rourke and mops up tears read­ing Toni Mor­ri­son and Frank McCourt, who has walked Ra­jasthan with Sal­man Rushdie and the Su­danese desert with Dave Eg­gers and the New Eng­land back­woods with Stephen King, who learned greed from TomWolfe, fear from To­bi­asWolff, ad­vo­cacy from NaomiWolf, who col­lapsed with El­iz­a­beth Gil­bert or cringed with Jean­nette Walls, who has thanked God for David Sedaris, Anne Lamott or Anna Quindlen, I say, “Me, too.”

Props to the page-turner who re­calls her va­ca­tions by the books she read while on them, who writes in the mar­gins, stars pas­sages, keeps a quote in her wal­let, who ra­tions her read­ing to­ward the end of good book, who sends fan letters.

And may the sun shine al­ways (wishes ev­ery writer I know) on the book­worm who pre-or­ders, picks up copies for friends, posts gush­ing online re­views, In­sta­grams book jack­ets, blogs about the ti­tles on her night­stand or in some other small but cru­cial way keeps the con­ver­sa­tions alive be­tween writ­ers and read­ers. How ever to thank the bib­lio­phile who, in­stead of lock­ing up the house, pour­ing a nice glass of some­thing calm­ing and slip­ping into a sit­com stu­por, drives across town to lis­ten to her fa­vorite au­thor read for an hour, laughs loud and has the writer sign a pile of books for the other great read­ers in her en­riched and un­der­lined life?

Oh and let’s not for­get the reader who knows the name of the woman at the book­store, who keeps the book club go­ing af­ter Tracy moves to Dal­las and Missy drops out, who seeds the next gen­er­a­tion of read­ers by plow­ing through the whole “Harry Pot­ter” se­ries with a child, or carts his grand­son to the li­brary to find out what hap­pened next to that poor Wimpy Kid.

God bless the word nerd who cred­its read­ing with shift­ing a par­a­digm, re­cast­ing a re­la­tion­ship, up­ping a Scrabble score, who has nudged a spouse awake just to read a line aloud, who’s ever felt her heart rate slow and her blood pres­sure drop, who has been si­lenced or awak­ened, shaken or saved by a book, who has talked out loud to a char­ac­ter in a novel or thrown a book against a wall, as I once sawmy mother do, or slapped one closed and said, “Ex­actly!,” which I’ve also seen her do, who sali­vates for the sub­ver­sive or the satir­i­cal or just loves the sonic plea­sure of those words side by side.

May we all set­tle in deep and take the of­fer­ing sum­mer ex­tends: a bit of ex­tra time to do the things that help us feel our hu­man­ity, that al­low us to re­cede from — and re­flect on — the sound and fury, forgo our good sense and in­dulge our sen­si­bil­i­ties and above all, to con­nect, only con­nect.


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