Page Turners

Page Turners: Lessons from the 100-Acre Wood

Page Turners asks members of our community to reflect on the role books and reading have played in their life.

Brian Christopher and one of his literary friends

This month’s Page Turners of Jefferson County is focusing on Brian Christopher, an avid reader, sometime writer, and longtime photographer, he has lived in a world of the published word for a very long time.

Brian’s history with reading and books began early, before the rigors of kindergarten filled his little noggin with the concepts of safety scissors, the best-tasting paste and nap time.

Every day, his mother would sit him down and read from The World of Pooh, a collection of Winnie the Pooh stories republished in the mid-1950s.  Brian followed his mom’s finger along each line as she read of those furry relationships in the 100-acre wood. A true book nerd, he still owns and cherishes that book.

A resident of Jefferson County, Brian and his wife, Lisa, explore and enjoy the wonders of the many layers of history in this area. Both former journalists, they relish the many stories found in the wonderful Jefferson County Museum and in talking to long-time residents.

Having spent so much time during his life in libraries, first as a youngster exploring the stacks and later as the chairman of the library board in Camas, Washington, Brian decided to join the Charles Town Library as a Community Outreach coordinator.

What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?

Oh, so many. But high on the pile are Land of Wolves, by Craig Johnson; Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow; Sign of the Book, by John Dunning; and then more layers below those.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading?

As a kid, I loved reading the NY Daily News and the Miami Herald for its police reporting so it was an easy jump to the classics of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, along with a lot of the other pulp writers. I progressed through Science Fiction with Isaac Asimov and his contemporaries along with sidetracks with heavier fiction from Philip Agee, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and those folks. It seems my likes are reflections of what life was bringing at that point. When our daughters were young, I reread Milne and Beatrix Potter along with my old friends the Hardy Boys. Later, while a crime reporter, I tended toward the lighter fare from James Thurber and Dave Barry. Now I’m free to dance among the authors, picking their best despite the genre.

Where and when do you like to read best?

Audio books in the car, grabbed moments at home in a rickety blue recliner, just whenever I get a chance to hear another’s voice leaping from a page.

Which book most impacted your career?

Not technically a book, but still it is printed material. LIFE magazine presented an amazing combination of the two things I loved most, words and pictures. I dreamed of being a staffer, traveling the world, finding those stories and making those photographs on that big, big paper. But the weekly ended in 1972 and the monthly edition as I was starting my career in the business. I had one assignment for them before it died.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Who else? Winnie, you know, Mr. Pooh.

Which three authors (living or dead) would you invite to a dinner party? What would you ask them?

Isaac Asimov: “Really, how big is your brain?”

Stephen King: “Are you afraid of the dark?”

Mary Shelley: “So you’re best known for Frankenstein, which you wrote when you were a teenager but not for your later, more mature works. Does that bug you?

What childhood memories about reading stick most in your mind?

Having a day disappear in an instant while I explored the stacks of the city library in Hollywood, Florida.

If you had to name a book that made you who you are today, what would it be?

Just Relax, pal, Relax.

Which five books would you take with you on a desert island?

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  2. The World of Pooh
  3. The Maltese Falcon
  4. The Foundation Trilogy
  5. The Grapes of Wrath

Is there book you’ve read & liked that you’re embarrassed to admit? Guilty pleasure?

No, not really. There have been some real stinkers that have only warranted a couple of chapters being read, but the books that I like are the books I like. We’re all different. I still read Milne, science fiction, Stephen King and Minnie & Moo (look it up, you’ll be glad you did). Be true to what you like and you’ll never have to be embarrassed.

What do you plan to read next?

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep

 

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