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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Diet - deadline is 8-9-12 9:59 am NY time. (08/02/12)

TITLE: Look What Gramma Started!
By Deborah Engle


Cheese, black bread, and warm goat’s milk. Heidi never had to wonder what she would have for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. It was always cheese, black bread and warm goat’s milk.

Assuming you could stomach the warm goat’s milk, this simple meal seems like it would be a tasty meal, but three times a day? If you’re five, maybe. I’m no nutritionist, but even I realize this can’t be an adequate diet. Possibly running with the goats, up and down a mountain every day makes a difference, though, because Heidi was always the picture of health.

I received an avalanche of Christmas gifts from my grandmother when I was nine years old. The only one I remember now is a book by Johanna Spyri. After devouring “Heidi”, I discovered my brother’s Christmas book just lying around collecting dust. Knowing he would never miss it, I took the opportunity to read “The Call of the Wild”. “The Boxcar Children” and “Little Women” came next. With every additional book, my newly discovered appetite for books grew stronger.

To satisfy my craving, I found myself venturing out to the public library on a regular basis. By the time I was in junior high, I had become a compulsive reader. If there was a cereal box on my breakfast table, my meal wasn’t complete until I had read every word it held – on all six sides. I even resorted to reading the newspaper. It started out innocently enough with the comics, but then I discovered Ann Landers, and then the front page. Before I knew it, I was reading the whole thing at one sitting. It made a nice supplement to my regular diet of library books.

It was a sad day when my family moved to the big city. While there was an impressive public library available, getting there would require bus fare, which I did not have. I felt like I had gone from a steak and potatoes diet, to a meager serving of bread and water. If it hadn’t been for my beloved set of World Book Encyclopedia, I may have wasted away to nothing. It couldn’t replace my regular fare, but occasionally flipping through the pages to find an interesting article did serve as a nourishing snack.

As summer approached, I learned that Mom would be needing me at home, and that meant there would be a lot of empty hours to fill. Then I learned a new word: bookmobile. What a concept! The city filled a step-van with books, then drove it to my neighborhood, where I could browse until I found a book to my liking. If the title I wanted wasn’t on board, they would bring it the next time around. It was almost as easy as ordering out for pizza. My summer turned out to be tastier than I had expected.

Signing up for my high school classes brought a new revelation. I could schedule one class period to work in the library as an aide. Were they serious? Put me down for that, please!

I was pretty sure I was in heaven. This menu of Dewey Decimal System delicacies offered tremendous variety, but my preference was almost always a classic work of fiction. For one hour every day, I inhaled the alluring aroma of “Gone With the Wind” and “A Tale of Two Cities”. “Les Miserables” and “Johnny Tremain” tempted me with their enticing plate appeal while I shelved books. Bits and pieces of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “The Good Earth”, and “The Red Badge of Courage” held my hunger at bay as I assisted at the check out desk. Having sampled them, they were all welcomed into my sanctuary at home, where I could savor my scrumptious repast at my leisure.

Looking back, I realize that Heidi and I are a lot alike. We are both just simple girls whose diets never changed. My favorite books to this day are fiction. I have read and enjoyed other genres; I love a well written biography; first person historical accounts are fine leisure-time reads. My Bible will forever be my most cherished book, but given a choice, fiction is what I take home.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to fiction, I even look forward to leftovers. I’m about to start in again on “My Dear and Glorious Physician”. Mmm, I can almost taste it.

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This article has been read 408 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/09/12
Great story, wonderful thoughts and messages sprinkled throughout the entire clever piece. Thank you.

God bless~
Charla Diehl 08/09/12
Sitting with a good book is something I truly enjoy too. The computerized books just aren't the same--and browsing the used book stores can whet anyone's appetite while being sweet to the pocket book. Thanks for the enjoyable read.
Ellen Carr 08/10/12
I enjoyed this. Ahh books - a good and worthy diet! And about Heidi - I wonder if there's a goats cheese/milk Heidi-style diet out there amongst the plethora of diets?
Dannie Hawley 08/12/12
I loved your clever weaving of story to topic, as well as the way you drew us back to Heidi's diet near the end. Very nicely done.
Laura Manley08/12/12
What a delightful read! You made this entry very fun and inviting to read. I didn't see anything in it that I might offer any suggestion on. I thoroughly enjoyed your appetite (or diet) for the books that you apparently have read and your love of reading. Excellent writing!
Myrna Noyes08/12/12
I feel like you are a true kindred spirit! I would read almost anything I could get my hands on as a kid--including cereal boxes! :D Your delightful reminiscence on your "diet of books" brought back so many of my own memories! I very much enjoyed this clever and well-written piece!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/13/12
I so identified with all the sentiments in your entry. There could be no more satisfying diet to an avid reader than a plethora of books. I even worked in the library in college. You "cooked" this all together into a delightful read.
Wilma Schlegel08/13/12
What a wonderful world your Grandma introduced you to, and you are now introducing to others! God bless.
Wilma Schlegel08/13/12
Sorry, I just looked back and saw that you called her "Gramma".
Noel Mitaxa 08/14/12
A very absorbing angle on the title, and I love the descriptive way you record your book-devouring projects. Very authentic.