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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Nancy and I go back a long time. Our origins are from a very happy place, Camp Yavneh. Nancy and I worked together long ago on a play....I think that it was West Side Story? She played the piano and I directed the show...that was a long time ago. We've played many games of Scrabble together, dance together and she has been a consistent influence in my life for years. Her husband Dov remains the ultimate teacher's teacher to me.

Nancy and I have read together now for a few years. Despite our distance, we are in the same book club. I can't think of a better topic to write about than reading books. Thank you, Nancy!

Reading -

I have always found pleasure in reading since I was a young girl. I remember reading Jane, Dick and Sally readers in first grade. And then, in middle elementary school, I cherished every Rumer Godden and Madeleine L’Engle novel I could get my hands on —- and, of course, Nancy Drew mystery books! Later I remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird under the mimosa tree in our front yard, and Jane Eyre on my parents’ bed, so engrossed in the story that I almost forgot to come to dinner!

I continued reading into my adulthood – but not so regularly like my mother, who always had a book out of the library, and at least one or two others on reserve. I was in college, dating, gaining a profession, then married, then kids…… My husband, Dov, and I read many stories and books to our kids when they were growing up and then The Harry Potter books, when they came on the scene. As the kids got more self-sufficient, I did start to read on my own again — I liked being a part of a book club — to read and then discuss with other people — people I already knew and those I did not. I liked the different perspectives.

When the pandemic struck, reading became my place of comfort and connection with others. I read and read and read. I was part of at least six book clubs at one time!!! I read books dealing with racism, historical fiction and biographies, new fiction, memoirs, classics and much more! My teachers were authors, literary critics, English professors, pastors — who enriched my reading experience, with their deep understanding of themes and characters.

As such, reading has brought immense pleasure to my life - particularly in the moment of the reading and, in the soon after, discussion. And, even though what I can recall later is less, it is the experience of reading each page, one after the other, and the connections made with the story and characters while reading those pages, that continue to nourish me.

PS- A few book recommendations by Nancy:

The Swimmers by Julia Otsuka

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Homesick by Eshkol Nevo

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Please add to this list in the comment section.

Nancy Lerea lives in Bronx NY.

She is the Director of Student Services and Admissions Liaison at SAR High School, in Riverdale NY.

She is married to Rabbi Dov, ema to four boys and three daughter in laws, and Nana to five grandchildren.

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