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Judy Spooner: What are you reading?

February is "I Love to Read" month and March is National Reading Month. I love to read every month of the year, so I celebrate it all year long.

I didn't hit my first reading snag until I was in high school. In an English class, I had to read, "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Moby Dick."

I really hated them. About halfway through both of them, I bought Classics Illustrated comic books so I could write the book reports.

About 20 years after hating to read Herman Melville's book about the whale, I was assigned to read a short story by him in college. I loved it. Maybe the reasons one enjoys a book or story depend on where you are in life.

Our daughters Laura and Margie love reading the classics that I found difficult to slog through.

One of Margie's favorites is "The Scarlet Letter," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and she's read it many times. Laura loves "Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Bronte.

The best books I've read include "Love Medicine" by Louise Erdrich, "Cadillac Jukebox," by James Lee Burke and "Demolition Angel" by Robert Crais. I buy Burke and Crais in hard cover. You really have to love an author to buy hard cover.

Like many males, husband Gary enjoys reading biographies. He also watches them on the History Channel.

If there were an award for the married couple that reads the most in south Washington County, it would surely go to Granville "Granny" Smith and his wife, Janet.

Granny, in an interview at the library, said Janet sometimes reads a book a day.

"I like everything except science fiction and romance novels," she said, picking up a book from one of the library's displays.

Granny is reading "Fort Dearborn: A Novel," which is a history of Chicago. "It was once called Fort Dearborn," he said, passing five books through the automated return window.

He's also looking forward to reading a new book about baseball great Willie Mays.

Librarian Kristin Watgrabe said she's reading "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett. "I was on the library waiting list for months," she said.

Next door, at Cottage Grove City Hall, City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said he's reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," by Stephen R. Covey.

While looking for something to read, he noted the many books around his home and picked this one to re-read.

Grey Cloud Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Sean Duncanson said he enjoys reading books by Vince Flynn, who writes novels about international intrigue. "He creates vivid pictures in your mind," he said.

School District 833 Superintendent of Secondary Education Randy Zipf said he just finished reading "Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell and James McPherson's "Tried By War" about Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

He's also reading "Drive," by Daniel H. Pink.

District 833 School Board Member Jim Gelbmann is not shy about the fact that he is a Democrat and a "liberal." He was Sen. Mark Dayton's chief of staff in Minnesota and now serves as Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State.

To no one's surprise, he's reading "Conscience of a Liberal," by Paul Krugman.

He also bought a copy of Sarah Palin's "Going Rouge."

"I didn't get an autographed copy, however," he said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600