Montpelier, VT -- August 30, 2007

Taking a break from work at the bank, reading the first Harry Potter. She’s already read them all, including the latest and now is starting over to read them all again. What makes these books so popular? It’s an escape.

Her favorite book of all time—Jane Austen’s Persuasion. She’s read it about three or four times and, though she likes Jane Austen’s other novels, this one is her favorite. It’s familiar, comfortable.

Recently she’s read The Map Maker’s Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon, by Robert Whitaker and these Harry Potter novels.

Her own book? Never.

She lives in Walden, near Montpelier. It’s a little town so small the roads aren’t even paved. What she likes about it? What is there not to like. She grew up spending summers in Vermont and now she lives here.

Has a book ever helped her become closer to another person? Not a specific book, but she formed a book club with a group of women she worked with and they’ve been friends now for ten years. They read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors and the Collision of Two Cultures, by Anne Fadiman; An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears; The Red Azalea, by Anchee Min; and The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. They still see each other a bunch but no longer get together for book group.

A book that’s added something to her life--The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Most of her friends in her book group work with developmentally disabled or emotionally disturbed kids. The book talks about a Loatan family where one of them has epilepsy, and it’s not treated as a disease, but as a spirit catching you. It was welcoming, she said, to have another perspective, to take the medical out of it.

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