Juanita Johnson is an instructor at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Duke University.
Recommended read: “Florence Gordon” by Brian Morton. Florence is 75, a feminist, newly famous, emotionally unavailable, but spunky as all get out. It is an entertaining story. I loved the vivid depiction of the consequences of not allowing oneself to be vulnerable, and how this trickles down to the next generation. And yet, there is one relationship where Florence lets her guard down, with her adolescent granddaughter, the only family member she likes.
Currently reading: “Darktown” by Thomas Mullen, a deeply moving portrayal of the 1940s and what the first African American policemen in Atlanta endured.
What is your favorite reading memory? When I was a high school student, the high school librarian Ms. Greenly and I read poetry with themes of strong girls and women out loud to each other once a week after the school day ended.
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What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of? “The Atomic Weight of Love” by Elizabeth J. Church. I wept at the end, which means it is a really good story!
Who or what taught you to love to read? My parents and my maternal grandmother. All three were voracious readers. I received a book for every birthday and Christmas. They always wrote a passage in the front of the book about why they selected that particular book for me.
What favorite book from childhood have you kept? I have kept many of my childhood books as well as several of my parent’s favorite books. My grandmother gave me “Famous Paintings: An Introduction to Art for Young People” by Alice Elizabeth Chase. It was my first introduction to great painters and sculptors. The book taught me how to look for the story behind the painting, and I was enchanted.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 320 pages