Friday, 4 July 2014


I walked over to a florist shop on Church Street the other day looking for some fresh cat grass for Toby. On the sidewalk in front of the florist were three tables which were covered by books for sale. Obviously  the local library branch was culling its stacks!

I glanced at the books displayed and grabbed one that was in the back row. It is "The Last Tsar" (The Life and Death of Nicholas II) by Edvard Radzinsky. As I enjoy reading histories and biographies - and I am intrigued by what happened in Russia during the change of regimes near the end of World War I - I took it for the 'big sum' of $.50!

I understand that a number of biographies have been written about that family but I have never read one. I have read about 100 pages (of this book) so far and find the story to be fascinating (for instance, the chapter that I read last evening covered the involvement of Rasputin - a person who has long intrigued me).

As I put down the book and turned off the bed lamp I got to reminiscing about books and the importance of them in the life of my family.

If you have read my earliest blogs you will recall that we lived in the rural community of Ruskin until I was seven years old. During that time the Public Library in Mission had a bookmobile which was driven to the smaller communities and one of the stops was at the Ruskin General Store. Mom met it at every visit. Mom's love of reading - combined with her natural curiosity - led the librarian to set aside all of the new books so that Mom could read them and then give her 'report' before they were put on the shelves to be borrowed by other people.

Mom loved to read and did so all of her life - even after she lost her sight and had to rely upon 'talking books'. Then I would drive out to where she lived, sit at the kitchen table and read to her the blurbs sent out by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) describing the 'talking books' which were available to be borrowed.

Dad was less well educated than Mom was but he loved to read too. His favorite genre was novels set in the Old West - and especially the books written by Zane Grey.

When we had learned how to read, Alda and I joined Mom and Dad in that activity.

It is funny how incidents remain in ones mind seemingly forever! World War II ended in August, 1945 and there was a celebration in the arena in New Westminster. Mom and Dad decided to attend so they engaged the services of a local young woman to be in the house while they were away. Alda and I were upstairs in bed and - while I have no idea how Alda was spending her time - I was reading. The book that I was reading then was the last few chapters of "Huckleberry Finn". I find it odd that that little incident is inscribed so indelibly in my memory!  

Since then I have read many books and of most genres. However - I do not enjoy science fiction nor stories of the occult.

At one time I had a fairly extensive library but - when I left Victoria, B.C. in my little Honda Civic wagon - I had no room in the vehicle for my books so I sold them to some of the book dealers there. Here in Toronto I 'grew' another library but - being confined in a little apartment - I had to get rid of them as well. However - I kept the Harry Potter books. Instead of book lined shelves I now have 
shelves full of movies on DVD.

In the meantime Alda married and raised a family, Her  husband died in 2005 and she lives in an apartment in 100 Mile House, B.C. While she does get to go down to Kamloops where there is a branch of a national bookstore chain, she does not have access to many books. However - I live across the street from the 'flagship' store of that chain. I go over there to browse and to pick up some reading material. As soon as I have finished reading it I go to the sub-post office in the same building and send the book on to Alda.

Movies are great - but give me the book upon which the storyline in the film is based and I will read it!

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