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ANN BAILEY: Revisiting old books brings back memories

Besides spending my hours writing, another pastime that I have been enjoying the past couple of months is reading.

Reading long has been one of my top three hobbies. My mom introduced me to the world of Nancy Drew when I was about 10. The entire series she had purchased for a dime each was stored in my grandparent’s attic and I read every one.

I also read her “X Bar X Boys’ and “Bobbsey Twins,” books, my brothers’ “Hardy Boys” and “Happy Hollisters” series and many more that I purchased from Scholastic Books and checked out from my school’s library. During the summer, I frequented the Larimore, N.D., city library, carrying home armloads one week and exchanging them for another bunch of books a couple of weeks later.

My family soon figured out that reading put me in another world. They knew that it was futile to try to talk to me because I likely wouldn’t hear what they said. Even if I did, I was so preoccupied with my book that I wouldn’t remember anything, anyway. My mom, especially, was pretty understanding and didn’t get too upset even when my reading time spilled over into dish drying duty. She also loved to read and she knew that it was improving my vocabulary and helping my creative writing.

As an adult, I didn’t lose my passion for reading, but time constraints restricted me from doing it as much as I liked. Whenever I did have some extra time, I much preferred to read than to watch TV. I could easily do without having a television in our house, but can’t imagine empty book shelves.

Since I haven’t worked a 9 to 5 job, reading is back on the front burner. Some of the books that I recently read are actually re-reads. When my siblings and I cleaned out my parents’ house, we packed up their library of books and I brought a couple of boxes of them to our house. Among the titles were some my favorites, including James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” series.

Old friends

Because I read most of the books about 30 years ago, they seem new again. Just as I was the first time, I am again in awe of Herriot’s vivid descriptions of his animal patients, their owners and the rural English countryside. Reading his accounts of being a rural veterinarian and treating cows, horses, cats and dogs, brings back memories of times I spent with my dad, mom, brothers and sisters taking care of the animals on the farm where I grew up..

Herriot not only was a wonderful storyteller when he was serious, he also wrote hilariously of some of his escapades with animals and I once again found myself laughing out loud. I have finished re-reading “All Creatures Great and Small,” “The Lord God Made Them All” and “Every Living Thing” and hope to find copies of “All Things Wise and Wonderful” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

In the meantime, I also re-read “I Never Met an Animal I Didn’t Like,” by Rory Foster, a Wisconsin veterinarian who treated and rehabilitated wild animals in addition to having a small animal practice. Foster, like Herriot, recounts stories about the humans, animals and birds he encountered.


Besides re-reading books, I also have read a few new ones. The first was: “Heavenly Horse Sense,” about a woman’s adventures leading backpack trips in the Montana wilderness. At the urging of Ellen, my daughter, I also read “The Hunger Games.”

“The Hunger Games” hooked me in, so I had to read “the other two in the series, Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.” Just liked in the days of old, I couldn’t put down “Mockingjay” and stayed up until 1:30 a.m. to finish it.

Though, I know I could download books on my iPad, I still prefer to read the printed copy. Just as I prefer to sit down and turn the pages of my newspaper, I like to do the same with a book. I look forward to turning hundreds more pages this winter. Reading is a good way to take a vacation to a world far away without ever leaving my chair.

Reach Bailey at or (218)779-8093.