Time with kids' mothers-in-law all booked up

When I sub at Trickum Middle School, I love the 20 minutes of silent reading at the start of the day. I also love to see what popular young adult literature the kids are reading.

But recently, I was surprised to see a young man reading a western by Louis L'Amour. I asked him about his book.

"My grandfather had the whole collection and passed them on to my dad," he said. "My dad and I are reading them together."

That really touched me. Even though I've been involved with nearly a dozen different book clubs in my life, books always seemed more special when I shared them with my family.

My husband and I have read books together for 30 years now, and there have been dozens over the years that we read along with the kids - including Judy Blume novels back when Chrisa, my about-to-turn 40 stepdaughter, was little.

Some years ago, Chrisa helped expand the family reading circle by including her mother-in-law, Penny, in on some of our reading. She just lent Penny our last summer's read, "The Shack," by William P. Young. I saw Penny last weekend at our granddaughter Brooke's fifth birthday party. "I can't wait to start 'The Shack,' but I want to finish Tori Spelling's latest book first. I just love how she writes," Penny said.

I didn't know Tori Spelling had written anything, but her titles "Mommywood," "So NoTORIous," and "sTORI Telling" take a pretty good

stab at dispelling her image of being just another pretty face. I have to read at least one of them.

Two weeks ago, I spent a few days in Alabama with my son Ian's mother-in-law, Mary. As we took little "girlfriend" trips to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Ala., and the Pritchard Rum Distillery in Kelso, Tenn., we discussed books we'd both read, mainly the works of Jodi Picoult and Sara Gruen. Before I left, she handed me a bagful of books on tape. "After you listen to them, don't give them back. Pass them along to someone else who would enjoy them," she said as I put them in my trunk.

A good idea, I always thought. I'd much rather pass along a book to someone I know will enjoy it and someday discuss it with me than toss it into my next load of castoffs for some local charity.

A few weeks ago, our youngest son, Leif, made it official that his 2010 wedding to Sarah Livingston will add one more mother-in-law to my book circle. Sarah's mother, also named Susan, and I have already had several book discussions, some theological, and she even popped a copy of Randy Alcorn's "Heaven" in the mail to me so we could "be on the same page" for our next discourse.

I have no need to wonder to whom I might pass along Mary's books on tape. It will be easy enough to keep them all in the family.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.