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Cover to Cover: The reading life of Audrey Hein
Audrey Hein is a retired nurse who grew up in Minnesota. She is an avid reader with eclectic tastes.

On reading

growing up

I really didn't read a lot as a young child. Neither my mother or my father finished school. Mom read a lot, she got "Reader's Digest" books and I read those, and she got magazines. I really didn't read a lot of books until I got into high school and had to read them for English classes. We all had our assigned jobs and I started out cleaning the living room and I got it taken away from me because part of the job was to sort out the magazines and throw out the old ones. I'd end up sitting in the middle of the floor reading all of the magazines. I got demoted to cleaning the bathroom.

On reading the classics

It's on my list of things that I want to do because, as I said, I didn't read those as a child and I didn't go to college. I went to nurse's training, which is not the same as being in college and being required to read some of those things. When I went to school in Minnesota, they had state boards and there were certain questions the teachers knew we were going to be asked. There wasn't time for us to read all of the books, so we learned the names and the authors and that they were important, but we didn't read many of them.

On reading to her children

I read the usual, nursery rhymes and that sort of thing. "The Jungle Book" - I loved reading that to them. There were so many alliterative words in the stories and they would giggle. Then, I would read the shorter stories, such as The Three Bears. I would substitute their names for the names of the characters and they would laugh and laugh and think it was such fun. I'm sure they remember those stories much better because I did that.

On her eclectic tastes in books

I read more fiction than nonfiction, but the library book club alternates month-by-month, fiction and nonfiction. I like that, sort of being compelled to read something that wouldn't have been my choice. In the past, I have not been particularly interested in history. My husband loved history and that's the only thing he read. I'm finding that the more I read, the more I'm leaning toward historical novels and history. I read "Nothing Like It in The World" (by Stephen E. Ambrose), which is a story of the building of the Transcontinental Railway and I found that just fascinating. It had politics, economics, and other areas I thought I didn't really understand well enough to read it, but I really enjoyed that book.

On a popular book that disappointed

"The Goldfinch" (by Donna Tartt) is a Pulitzer-winning book. I got about a third of the way through it and thought, "This isn't worth my time." I hardly ever quit. If I start a book,

I usually finish it, but I couldn't get beyond the first part of that one. Might go back some day and try it again.

On print books vs. ebooks

My husband bought every book that he wanted to read, and he ended up ended up with a library of 1,500-2,000 books, which I had to pack up and move. I don't want to do that again, so I borrow most of them. Like I said,

I rarely reread a book, so it's not important to have it. When I get into reading, it doesn't really matter whether I have a physical book or a Kindle version. I download most of them onto a Kindle just because it's easier to get them that way. I live out in the country, so I'd have to drive into town and check books out at the library. This way, I can just, when I've got 5 minutes, download a library book

and it's ready and waiting for me. One of the things I really like about the Kindle is that if you find a word you don't understand, or if you have a reference to some historical spot, you can look it up right there. You don't have to get up and find another resource to find it.

On reading in retirement

I think because I'm

retired and I have no responsibilities other than myself, I'm really enjoying the time I'm able to spend reading. When I was younger, when I had a family to take care of, I felt guilty if I sat down to read, because there were so many other things that needed to be done; and now, it doesn't matter. I can sit and read all day and thoroughly enjoy it.

Columnists' note: The Library Lunchtime Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 11 a.m.