A Life in Books: Prologue

Updated: Jun 8


Image by fellow book lover and book club member Joanne Volonté.


In my early 30’s I considered having corrective eye surgery. Due to my thin corneas, the doctor informed me that I would therefore be eligible for LASEK vs LASIK surgery. In LASEK the top layer of the cornea is loosened, moved, and reattached. The result is the same as the LASIK option, where a cut is made in the cornea, and the recovery time from LASEK is 3 months vs a few days with the LASIK. One function of the recovery time for LASEK, for one full month I would be forbidden to read. This fact nearly stopped me from getting the surgery. Luckily, my companion of the time offered to read to me for at least one hour each day. With extra glee, I went through with the surgery. Reading since I was 6 years old, the only thing I like better than to read, is to be read to by someone there with me in the room.


This section of my blog was born in a mediation, to honor my local reading group, and to share my love for books all in one go. Here you will find beloved books and the why they are beloved. An offer of a good read from one lover of books to another.


When I was living in Moscow my dear friend Nik was recounting all the merits of his lovely new Russian love. Only one thing seemed astray, she did not like to read. An oddity for any Russian over the age of 20. Moreover, Nik like myself, was a person always with a book. While their love affair lasted longer than imagined by either, in the end one of the reasons they broke up was the issue of books.


Anyone who loves books knows that it is not just about the books, or the reading of them. One dear book loving friend plans her vacations around books; where to buy them, secret libraries, fairs, special cafes and or hotels are always a feature when she and her family go on holiday. Her husband loves to read so much that I have seen him retire to a quiet corner at holiday parties with his latest selection.


Another friend reads books she loves up to a dozen times. When speaking about this one day in her lovely garden I remarked that I was always up for a new title, as there are so many books I want to read and only a certain amount of time to do so. While she respected my ideas, for her the books were like visiting with old friends, and she enjoyed each read as a new visit.


For another friend, as for me, books are companions. They share a journey with us as much as they take us on one. When faced with reducing her library it took her years, during which she traversed continents with all of her books. When she finally shed them, she did so with a light heart sure they had been cherished and ready to let go of what they had represented about her and her past.


With the event of the e-book entire new worlds opened up. One known to take 5-6 books with her on holiday and always with 2-3 in my work bag, it literally was a game changer for my physical health. Now, I could take what Claudio calls my entire library, with me wherever I went. As a child books represented whole worlds beyond my reach or imagination. I could hide in them from any of my world’s ills, escape even from deep loneliness in them, and eventually it is books that fueled my actual escape. The first person in my family to go to University, it is surely my love to explore, and the books that helped me do so, that assisted me to make the grades to get in, and to succeed in university.


Faced with the challenge of knowing a niece I have yet to meet, books inspired me again. This was all spurred by the fact that said niece’s mother is a librarian. Indeed, the Bunny Chronicles children’s series was basically born as an attempt to share my love for books while subtly communicating my own life story. As I write this, Turkish Delights the third book in the series is in progress, and who knows what other ‘literary’ endeavours I will be inspired too.


When I first came to Lugano, eager to find my place the first group I joined (for the first time in my entire life of living abroad) the book club of the International Women’s Club of Lugano (IWCL). At that time it was run by a super-efficient American woman, Margo. She managed the books, the logistics, and the ladies who were aged 35 – 80 from more than 10 countries at any given meeting. I felt I had landed in my own tribe. These women loved to read and the only thing they loved more was to share their ideas about what they had read with the others in the group. At a certain point Margo left Lugano and I found myself the facilitator of this amazing bunch of book loving women.


More than a decade has gone by since I found myself at the head of the Books for our group, and my love for both reading and the women of the group has only grown. This section of my blog was born in a mediation, to honor this group, and to share my love for books all on one go.


Here you will find beloved books and the why they are beloved. An offer of a good read from one lover of books to another. With luck there will be guests offering their ideas too. If you have a book you wish to share, please feel free to share with us in the comments. If you want to write a piece about a book you are truly passionate about, contact me directly at nicolecrabtre.food@gmail.com and let us consider the possibilities.


In every case, enjoy the books you find here and know that there are book lovers across the globe with you every time you read.

Creative art in books by fellow book lover, Esra Jauch.

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