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Another Day in the Country

Book covers

© Another Day in the Country

One of the early axioms I learned from my mother was “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

I’ve wondered about that advice through the years, because pretty much I think I CAN tell something about the book by it’s cover — whether we are talking people or actual books.

It’s the cover that most often attracts me to pick a book up and check it out. It’s something about how people look that also suggests that they might be interesting, that sparks my curiosity about them — which is the beginning of a lot of friendships.

I remember the first time I saw my friend DeAnne. She and her husband were at the health club exercising. Her face is most always full of smiles, beaming, greeting people by name as she moves across the room.

“That lady looks like she’d be fun to know,” I thought to myself; but I just smiled and acknowledged her greeting.

Someone told me her name and a little about her. Weeks went by until one day she stopped at the exercise bike I was pedaling to nowhere and introduced herself. We chatted, and I made a point of remembering her name.

Whenever I walk in the door of the club, her husband sings, “Ramona, when day is done, I hear you call,” and before long I’m sitting down and having a cup of coffee and talking.

I’m still reading this friendship book and continue to discover interesting, sometimes poignant, chapters. This book is a keeper.

Sometimes it’s the title of the book that first gets my attention — it is on the cover — and then it’s the art work, the style. A book called “The Financial Diet,” got my attention partly because of the pink-parfait-colored cover. Then the topics hooked my imagination. Who doesn’t want to get “Good with Money?”

There are attitudes in a book, just like people have attitudes. Some pull you closer and some shove you away. This book on finances had a playful stance with illustrations and headlines that grabbed my attention and stimulated my imagination.

There were wise sayings, “Money is nice but there has to be a point to it or you’ll never have enough,” and even food recipes for saving money by eating at home instead of going to a restaurant. Great book.

Sometimes I go in search of a book because I’ve heard the author interviewed on the radio. That was the case for the Jason Reynolds book, “Long Way Down.”

I was intrigued, ordered his book written for kids. When I got the book in the mail, I took one look and let it sit on my desk for a solid month.

I was expecting a “regular” book with pages full of print; but this volume was definitely strange and unsettling.

“I write for teenagers,” the author had said, “about what I know — black, inner city, teenage boys.”

The phrase “teenage boy” caught my attention. I’d been trying to find good books for my grandson, and this book is a national book award finalist. So, I ordered it.

Then it sat unread.

The cover was unusual — silverish, stressed, numbers running down like elevator buttons.

“Sixty seconds, seven floors, three rules, one gun,” said the fly-leaf blurb.

Inside, the words on the pages were presented like short poems, only they didn’t rhyme. Sometimes there were only one or two words on a page and the paper wasn’t clean — there were abrasions and smudges, faint images, and even smoke.

From the time I finally picked the book up to read until I finished it, little more than an hour had elapsed, but what a journey I’d been on. This was such a fine book, even though the tale it told was millions of miles away from my daily experience.

It is the daily experience, however, of kids the age of my grandson who live, perhaps, in Oakland or Sacramento, experiencing gun violence in their school or their neighborhood.

“Writing another column?” my grandchild says, sitting down beside me on the bed. “What about?”

“Book covers,” I say. “Check this one out,” as I hand him the book.

He flips it open and begins to read out loud to me. The pages turn quickly because of the writing style. A new world opens up before him, as he burns through the pages, on another day in the country.

Last modified April 18, 2018

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