Books (1)

Those moments when you see a favourite writer's work, suddenly and fleetingly, in a stranger's hands! In the lineup at the post office the young woman turned a page and looked up from her book. I said: "Nadine Gordimer." She smiled and said: "I am going to read every one of her books this summer. Two so far."

Searching for Bobby Orr spotted on the subway... Hemingway beside the seat of a student/taxi driver. "Class is hard, the language is hard for me," he said, and grinned. "But exciting."

Three strangers, our carry-ons being combed through at a tiny Caribbean airport, had packed Cheryl Strayed's memoir, Wild. Our paperbacks slapped onto a long steel table, from a knapsack, a briefcase and a tote bag. We saw each other on the island and chatted about Wild each time we did. Hammock, pool, lunch. "Finished yet?" "Those blisters, her feet -- I Googled her feet -- they healed!"

Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes in coffee shops. Lisa Moore at the dentist; in a medical waiting room, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, distracting a fellow patient.

The room used to make me cry a little -- they're all sick, damnit, damnit. "I don't want this book to end," she told me. Her face was strained when she broke away from the book and it softened as she went back to it, back to Atkinson's Ursula Todd, who lives life after fraught and dangerous life. I hope the worried woman is herself living far from whatever brought her there. I hope she has begun again.