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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Norah Ephron and Reading

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 25, 2015


The ability to read, coupled to the enjoyment of reading, is the most important thing in life.  Now that is from the perspective of a librarian, of course.


The longer I work in a library, and talk and observe people using a public library, the more I confirm to myself the ultimate importance of reading in your life.


Your personal life, your business life, operating in today’s age is all critical to your ability to read and comprehend.


Using a computer?  Reading is the interaction between you and the machine.  Your ability to use the technology at-hand is critical to your success in using that technology.


A library patron recently gave me a quotation that she had found in a book at the library, and I told her that I had to share it with all of you:


“Reading is one of the main things I do.  Reading is everything.  Reading makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person.  Reading makes me smarter.  Reading gives me something to talk about later on.  Reading is escape and the opposite of escape; it’s a way of making contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.  Reading is grist.  Reading is bliss.”


The quotation comes from “I feel bad about my neck” by Nora Ephron, a book she wrote in 2006.


You may know the name of Nora Ephron from her romantic comedies as she was a screenwriter nominated for an Academy Award for “Silkwood, When Harry met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle.”  She is also considered a journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director, and blogger.


With a list like that, how did Ephron develop her view of reading?


She was born in 1941 in Manhattan, the daughter of playwrights where reading was always part of her early life.  Her sisters are also writers.


From their earliest days, the Ephron girls were trained to come to the dinner table prepared to tell stories.  Those tales were the basis for later writings of both the parents and daughters.


Relocating to California, Ephron graduated from Beverly Hills High School before attending Wellesley College.


The first years of her writing career involved the New York Post and free-lancing for magazines such as Good Housekeeping.


Her career as a screenwriter spanned from “Silkwood” in 1983 to her 15th film in 2009, “Julie & Julia.”


Reading and writing go together, the more you do one, and the better you get at the other.


Ephron died in 2012 from acute myeloid leukemia, a condition that she quietly dealt with for six years, providing only clues about her condition in her final book written in 2010.


Her story is repeated over and over in society, a parent that encourages reading and writing at an early age that leads to a lifetime of a reading habit.


My mother encouraged reading anything and everything.  She placed books and magazines everyplace around the house and actively talked with me about “what I had read” and my reaction to the subject matter.


She was repeating her own childhood with her father, the 6th Grade Schoolteacher for nearly 50 years who did the same thing --- lots of reading and discussion at all times.


One of her friends told my mother, “Why Flossie, you are going to wear out your boys with this never-ending reading!”  Mom said, “I hope so.”


We would read the billboards along the road, describe what we saw here and there, and I won’t even tell you how nibby she was with school assignments and homework.


Thank you parents, your grandparents, aunts & uncles, school teachers, and mentors for your reading habit.