Doctors, Gardeners, and Book Clubs

Jun 10, 2010 by

“Hi, I’m Dr. Shermetaro,” my doctor said, extending his hand to introduce himself.  In the very next breath he added, “I can’t believe you’re reading that book!”  Upon hearing him enter my examination room, I had just closed my current book club selection A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. “I just brought that book to the office today to lend to a friend who is going to spend 2 months hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer!” he continued, obviously excited to share his love of this book for the second time in one day.  We proceeded to talk about this and other books we have read and make recommendations to each other.  He insisted that I MUST read The Glass Castle.  Ironically, that’s the book my book club leader selected for the following month, and I must say that it is now on my list of favorite books and I recommend it whenever I get the chance. 

I entered the doctor’s office that day with a doctor/patient relationship and left as a fellow book lover.  Without a doubt, books bring people together–sometimes even the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely of places.

A few years ago I stood at the local farmer’s market selecting plants for my vegetable garden.  I wanted advice about some  heirloom tomatoes and found myself drawn toward an older gentleman manning one of the plant stands.  Albeit a younger version, he reminded me so much of my 102-year-old grandfather who had owned his own greenhouse as a hobby and grew a huge vegetable garden until the summer before he died.  After imparting his knowledge of tomatoes, the man began to share with me how his greenhouse was a family affair and that his children and grandchildren were now taking the reins.  I shared with him that my grandparents and parents had instilled in me a love of gardening and that I hoped my children would come to love it, as well.  He said, “You know what you need to do?  Have your children plant some sunflowers in the shape of a square and when they grow tall, let them play inside it.”  0404

My grandfather “Papa” takes a break while working in his garden.

I became very excited and said, “I did that! It’s called a sunflower house! We got the idea for it when I read to my children a picture book called The Sunflower House by Eve Bunting.”

“Yes!” he said. “That’s where I got the idea, too!”  I had already bonded with this man around our shared love of gardening, but now our mutual love of a book solidified that bond. 

Books have a way of doing that to people.  I thought about this as I left my book club meeting this afternoon.  It was our final meeting of the year until we resume again next fall.  I thought about each person in my book club and how much they have enriched my life during the past 3 1/2 years.  Some of them I had known previously, but others were just introduced to me through this club.  We have a variety of interests and passions, but one thing we all share is a love of books.  And through our discussions each month, I believe we have all grown and become smarter, more interesting people because of the books we have shared.

It is my hope that my students will someday experience this passion for reading, too, and that their lives and relationships will be enriched through the power of books. 

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  1. Lisa Walter

    I loved the book The Glass Castle! I just received a gift card to a book store…any new picture book recommendations? I feel a bit out of the loop! (The Sunflower House is definitely on my list!)

  2. Annemarie

    I have lots of picture book recommendations! Anything in particular you are looking for? A favorite that comes to mind is Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack. It is great to use as a mentor text for teaching lots of writing crafts, but I also like it just because it’s such a beautiful story. It’s a true story about a Saturday tradition held by Lester and his grandmother for years as he was growing up.

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