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*Learn how to paint by reading a book! I discovered this vintage ad in a September 1958 edition of Life magazine at the inn where I stayed last weekend. Doesn’t it remind you of the “Dick and Jane” books? Lots of people my age learned to read with those books.*

You know the kind of blog posts that share a lesson in a few short tips? This isn’t one of them. Read a book today. That’s the gist of today’s post. I guess you could stop reading right here and reach for a book. That would be great with me. No matter what you want in life, a book could be just the pathway.

Books aren’t just good friends; they can also lead you to good friends, give you a name, help you learn how to use language, and give you something to say when you speak. Reading a book is one of the few things you can do to become more interesting.

Books are pathways to friendship.
Sunday morning at 7 a.m., I was sitting alone in the dark at the Friendship Inn and Lodge in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I spent the night there after visiting a cherished friend (we met at a book discussion) who moved there to be close to her son.

With only a bit of light, I fumbled around in search of coffee and found a loaded pot. I turned it on and poured myself a cup, watching for signs of life from the innkeepers, who said they opened the kitchen at 8 a.m.

It has been ages since I had an unscheduled hour and I sat there wondering what to do with myself until then. About that time I heard a pair of bare feet on the staircase behind me.

Books can give you a name.
Soon I was in the company of 8.5 year-old Ariel who introduced herself this way: “You know…like Ariel in Shakespeare’s Tempest. I was eight and a half on October 24 at 6:04 a.m.” She was carrying a book and she was an early riser. Already we had things in common. Ariel gets up every morning at 6 a.m. because her bus comes at 7:15. Shakespeare! What a great way to name a child!

Books help you learn to use language.

*I know this isn’t a great photo, but it was the best I could do in the poor light with my IPhone. Besides, you get to meet Ariel just the way I saw her.*

Ariel was reading They’re Torturing Teachers in Room 104, a book she’d read once before with her mother. She liked it better this time, maybe because she was reading it on her own. “I wasn’t in the mood for a solemn book, so I picked something funny even though I’ve already read it,” she said. She shared the plot plus a description of the “epilogue” in another series. This may be the first time I’ve ever used solemn or epilogue in a sentence. Obviously, reading improves your vocabulary and helps you learn how to express yourself.

Books give you something worthwhile to talk about.
Ariel was a brilliant conversationalist. She wanted to know where I lived and why I was there. She couldn’t imagine being 89-years-old like the friend I was visiting. I know what she’s wearing for Halloween and why. (Yay—she’s going as a 70s hippie because her Mom lived through that era and knows just how to costume it!)

*Another ad from the 1958 Life Magazine. Mercy, it looks idyllic!*

I know how many grandparents she has. (Five.) I know that her sister’s hair is the color of mine, one of her grandfathers owns a yacht, her father is 55 and her mother is 48. She also taught me how to count to 19 in Turkish and told me about her friendship with a famous author. “She’s working on a new book, but no one else knows but me, because we’re really close friends,” Ariel said. People who read are interested in others. They’re never at a loss for words.

Here’s a peek at the Friendship Inn and Lodge in Black Mountain. There were sayings about friendship scattered about the house. It makes me happy to consider the parallels between my visit and the name of the inn.

The place was loaded with vintage furniture, books, magazines and household items. If it was serviceable, it was used––regardless of its age. The owners have had the place for 45 years and haven’t changed much in that time.

It was comfortable, rustic, unpretentious, and affordable. I received a warm welcome and a hug as I said goodbye. I’d return in a heartbeat with fond memories of Ariel, another book buddy.

Met anyone interesting lately? Who’s your favorite book buddy?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.