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Readers love the wintertime

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Cassidy Powell, 6, reviews a book by one of her favorite children's book authors, Junie B. Jones. Reading is a routine activity at her Walnut Creek home.
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When the snow falls, South Shore residents and visitors do more than put boards on their feet. They still put books in their hands, a major feat when considering the increasingly big draw of Internet blogs and specialty magazines.

Hunkering down with an engaging book can be just as much about winter here as skiing and boarding. The nights are longer, the weather is nastier and the Neighbors reading group brings out more people. It averages about a handful of avid readers.

Michael Stroschein, who owns Neighbors Bookstore, sees the interest level in deep reads – such as the classics, mysteries and literature – increase in winter. He’s armed with a diverse collection of recommendations for the season – from Jodi Picoult’s novel “My Sister’s Keeper” to Simon Winchester’s brawny page-turner, “A Crack in the Edge of the World.”

There are more movie viewers getting into the action too, with a few paperbacks sharing the marquees with the best-selling lists, Stroschein noted.

“Look at the ‘Constant Gardener.’ No one knew about it, then the movie came out, and we sold a ton of (books),” he said.

Stroschein read the “Chronicles of Narnia” as a child. He picked up the popular series again knowing the movie release would pique interest among his customers.

Many of them were perusing the children’s reading section Sunday. Julie Grosvenor and her two boys were seeking something there that mom enjoys reading and the youngsters enjoy hearing. Grosvenor, an avid reader and “literature docent” in her Los Altos school district, believes in the power of reading.

In this day and age, the Mountain View woman said it’s harder to read books as more media options like Internet blogs, local and national newspapers and a wide assortment of specialty magazines may serve as a distraction to the old-fashioned activity.

The number of computer users and newspaper readers packing the South Shore coffeehouses Sunday illustrated that point.

Grosvenor uses wintertime as a season for “the big reads” like mysteries and classics.

“In the summer, I read more of the light stuff,” she said. Either way, the Grosvenors read all year long, with mom sharing the reading list with her two sons. Sean, 7, likes animal books. He crawled on the floor looking at “Why Paint Cats.” Dane, 9, enjoys dragon stories.

“I like children’s literature. It’s a huge market. It’s great they’ve gotten into the aesthetics. It’s come so far in the illustrations and variety of authors,” she said.

Book store customer Julie Powell’s daughters go for the Junie B. Jones books, modern stories for young girls. The Walnut Creek household tries to pass down the timeless stories for at least 20 minutes a day.

Powell’s 9-year-old Kira read the Narnia series. Her younger sister Cassidy, 6, has taken an interest in her reading material. In turn, Camille, 3, has done the same with Cassidy’s choices. The youngest picked up the Jones’ holiday addition of her series as a book she’d like to work into.

Some stories stand the test of time. Joy Terbush of San Francisco took time out of her ski day to kick back with a few books. She picked up a James Beard and Oxford classic.

“There’s no substitute to the solitary time. I’ve been a lifelong reader,” she said.


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