Happy 2019! Of course, I always get a little blue packing up the last Christmas tree ornament and finally acknowledging that the Christmas cookies are too stale to eat anymore. But when the house is clean and the fridge is full of fresh groceries─I remember the excitement of new beginnings.
In the spirit of starting fresh, I decided to find a new book. As Wizard of Oz heroine, Dorothy Gale famously says: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.” I wasn’t looking for my heart’s desire exactly─just a book─but still, I decided not to look any further than my own backyard and read a book published right here in Siloam Springs.
And what a gem I found: Growing Up R.I.C.H.: Raised in Crazy Hollow by Jean Hurt. It’s a delightful collection of short stories and poems about her life growing up in Arkansas and Oklahoma during and after the Great Depression. Although a dark time historically in many ways, Hurt’s writing shines with humor. She writes in her dedication: “I have tried to tell about the depression without being depressing.”
The book details one hilarious anecdote after another: how to dislodge a turnip from a cow’s throat, an intricate revenge plot using cow manure, the comedy of a cold, drunk man and some borrowed long johns, and on and on. Woven into the stories is a picture of what life was like for many people in our area of the country decades ago. We follow Jean into Saturday nights with neighbors listening to the radio and eating popcorn, scrubbing laundry on a washboard, and walking in shoes repaired repeatedly by hand.
Hurt’s stories refreshed me with their originality, humor and perspective. Maybe you’d like to be refreshed with a new book too? If so, you’ll be excited about our 2019 Reading Challenge. First of all, there are PRIZES! To participate, pick up a list of categories and choose one that intrigues you (for example, “a nonfiction novel based on a true story”) then find a book that fits the category (I know some helpful librarians if you get stuck here). Read your new book, then pick a new category and start again. Oh, and to get in the drawing for a PRIZE write down your reads on an official reading log at the reference desk. Our first PRIZE is coming from Heart of the Home store downtown. Prizes from more fabulous businesses to follow!
You never know when you might find something new─right here in your own backyard.
Till next time,