Series: The Bibliophiles, Book 3
Author: Karen Wojcik Berner
Published: January 12th, 2015
Word Count: approx. 69,000
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Age Recommendation: 13+
Uptight British lit lover meets a free spirit at a book club, and his world is turned upside down!
After placating to his father’s demands that he play Little League baseball and major in computer programming in college rather than his beloved English literature, Thaddeus assumed that several years into his career, he would finally get some peace and quiet.
Then he met Spring Pearson, the younger, free-spirited daughter of Hippie parents, at a book club meeting. Instantly smitten, Thaddeus finally worked up the courage to ask Spring out. But will an old college pinkie-swear promise Spring made fifteen years ago get in the way of this bibliophilic romance?
“A Groovy Kind of Love” is the third and final installment of Karen Wojcik Berner’s Bibliophiles series. Written as stand-alone novels, each book focuses on one or two members of a fictional suburban classics book club, revealing their personal stories while the group explores tales spun by the masters
We all have a first memory, one dug deepest in that part of the brain that commemorates the dawn of our cognizance. For some, maybe it’s their first plush toy. Others might recall bouncing on their fathers’ knees. Thaddeus had none of these. His awakening began the first day his mother brought him to the library.
“Bundle up, sweetie.” Maureen Mumblegarden pulled five-year-old Thaddeus’s coat collar up around his neck. “Can’t forget the mittens.” She snapped them onto large strings dangling from his coat sleeves, and yelled down the empty hallway, “Let’s go, Addie.”
His sister slogged to the foyer. “Why can’t I stay by myself? Granny’s right downstairs.”
“You’re not old enough. What if you start a fire trying to heat up some SpaghettiOs?” Mother zipped up her Borgana coat. “The whole place would be up in flames before Granny could even make it up here.”
“But I’m nine!”
“She’s gonna make me watch As the World Turns!”
Mother grabbed her purse and keys. “Bring a book or something to occupy yourself while Granny watches her soap operas.”
“Enough! This is a special day for your brother, and I won’t have you ruining it.”
At the bus stop, Thaddeus stood perfectly still, afraid that if he moved even an inch, one of the cars whizzing past would roll over his foot and crush his big toes. His left hand grew sweaty inside its mitten from gripping his mother’s glove so tightly. A few feet away, cars lined up on the street in front of a dark-green shack. An older man with an apron tied around the waist of his parka handed newspapers through passenger-side windows. Pedestrians grabbed their copies from huge stacks and threw dimes in an old cup. Overstuffed racks held magazines, some of which Thaddeus recognized from the coffee table in the living room.
Maureen purchased a copy of Highlights for him and a Ladies Home Journal for herself. “Something to keep us busy on the bus.” She tucked them into her purse. “Here it comes. Stay close.”
“Wake up, honey. This is our stop.” The mother nudged her boy awake.
Thaddeus stumbled down the street, his post-nap haze lifting with each step. Businessmen marched down the sidewalk, briefcases swinging in unison. Car horns beeped. Messengers zigzagged through traffic with large canisters on their backs. Past restaurants and stores mother and son trod, tall office buildings blocking out the sun.
Their destination was a massive gray building, one full block in size, which he thought looked like Aunt Barbara’s wedding cake, each tier more ornate than the one below, with arches and columns and words he had never seen before.
“What is this place, Mother?”
“It’s the library.” She opened the doors to reveal crisscrossing marble staircases.
Little Thaddeus navigated the stairs, picking his legs up extra high so he didn’t fall. Mosaics of green-colored glass, gold leaf, and mother of pearl guided him toward the main room. His nostrils filled with the scent of paper and a hint of dust.
“What does that say?” He pointed to one of the many quotes lining the third floor’s outer hall.
“‘He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, or an effectual comforter.’ It’s from Isaac Barrow. Follow me, sweetie.”
They entered a grand room capped with a gold-rimmed, blue–stained glass dome. The ornate ceiling sparkled when sunlight shone through. His mother bent down and whispered in his ear, “That is the world’s largest Tiffany dome. See those symbols at the top? Those are the signs of the zodiac. People born under the same sign usually have similar characteristics.”
Thaddeus didn’t know who this Tiffany was, but she sure made some beautiful art—all those pieces of glass put just so. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it and ended up walking right into his mother, jostling them both.
The woman perched behind the circulation desk peered down at him. “May I help you?”
He gulped, his eyes begging for his mother’s assistance.
“My son turned five last week. We would like to get him a library card.”
Thaddeus puffed out his chest. After all, he was old enough to be in a magnificent place such as that.
“Why certainly, ma’am.” The woman turned to Thaddeus. “Happy birthday, young man. Let’s get you started.”
He printed “Thaddeus Mumblegarden IV” in his best hand, careful to make each letter small enough to fit on the line provided, while still being legible, quite a feat for one so young.
The librarian returned and handed him his card. Thaddeus beamed. A glorious bibliophilic universe was at his disposal! Well, at least the children’s section.
“Reading time starts in ten minutes downstairs in Room B. Enjoy your great adventure, young man.”
On the way down, Maureen read him every quote adorning the walls, nuggets of wisdom passed down from great thinkers of every world region in praise of books and reading. Thaddeus didn’t understand it all, of course, but he could feel it was a sacred space, a special place where the tales of generations could be passed down to those who had the same card as he.
An elderly gentleman clad in a tweed jacket and corduroy pants waved them into Room B. Thaddeus took a spot in the front row among the other children while Maureen joined the other mothers near the back.
“Greetings, young lad,” the man said. “I haven’t seen you here before.” They spoke the same language, yet he didn’t sound like anyone Thaddeus had ever heard.
“I got my library card today. My birthday was last week.” The boy beamed.
“I see. You’ve just picked up your passport.”
“Library card,” Thaddeus corrected.
“Bring it here, son. Let me see.” The man examined the card carefully. “Ah, this is not merely a library card. With this, you can travel the jungles of Africa with Rudyard Kipling or traipse the moors with Emily Brontë.” He patted Thaddeus on the head and sent him back to his seat. “All right, children. Today we are going to read Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, who happens to hail from my motherland of England.”
The man’s voice danced in Thaddeus’s ears. Beautifully rounded vowels waltzed alongside perfectly pronounced consonants, all joining together to tell the story of Christopher Robin’s sweet teddy bear.
Before catching the bus home, Thaddeus and Maureen Mumblegarden stopped in Marshall Field’s for a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie.
“Mother, look!” Thaddeus tugged at her coat. He picked up a Pooh bear from a display and hugged it tightly.
He cuddled the bear throughout the entire ride home, careful not to drop his new friend on the dirty bus floor.
About the Author
When not writing, she can be found on the sidelines of her youngest’s football or lacrosse games, discussing the Celts with the oldest, or snuggling into a favorite reading chair with a good book and some tea.
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Don’t do it. It’s a cruel, terrible, gut-wrenching business that’s not for the faint of heart. If you still persist after hearing that from someone who has been around awhile, then good luck and godspeed. But, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
When did you start writing?
My first book was a limited-edition, hand-bound volume entitled “The Car.” I was 8. Needless to say, it only sold one copy. To my parents. I strayed from the writing path for many years, and instead focused on my future singing career. I was convinced I could break into the industry as a back-up singer for Barry Manilow. Hey, it was the late seventies, and I was still in grammar school. I cannot be held responsible for pre-adolescent tastes.
It was high school before my love for writing truly reared its head again, but instead of fiction, it came in the form of the high school newspaper. In college, I majored in English with a writing concentration and communications and began freelancing until I got a position with a magazine. I stayed in magazines for several years until I took some time off to raise my children.
While I was supposed to be taking that time off, I had an idea for a book that was too good not to write, so I did. Oops. So much for taking time off.
Do you ever feel frustrated with your work?
What makes you keep writing when you get frustrated?
Pure stubbornness. I’ve threatened to quit writing fiction every month for years now, but I realize it’s too much a part of me to let go. Then I have a good cry and get on with it.
How do you get over writer's block?
Take a walk, play some music, work on something else. I like to write two things in tandem so that when one is not flowing, I can work on the other one. Those blocked days also are good for editing.
There are a lot of distractions around, especially with social media. How do you block it all out and write?
I use Google Chrome for a browser. Yahoo is much too tempting, all of that needless information shouting at me from the computer screen. You know how it is. You just click on one item and BAM! It’s a half an hour later, and you can’t remember what you were looking for in the first place.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I’m all about the arts. Museums, concerts, plays, books — I love them all. But before you start thinking I’m a snob, I also spend much time on the sidelines and in the stands of my youngest son’s football and lacrosse games. I can drink beer and analyze football defenses with the best of ‘em.
What's something about you that most people don't know?
I have a dark side. I love Edgar Allan Poe, Tim Burton movies, graveyards, and Halloween.
Where do you come up with the names for your stories?
The three books in the Bibliophiles series are all song titles or inspired by songs. “A Whisper to a Scream” was by Icicle Works in the ‘80s, “Until My Soul Gets It Right” is part of a lyric from the Indigo Girls’ “Galileo,” and “A Groovy Kind of Love” is another ‘80s number, a remake of an older sixties song by Phil Collins.
Sure. Somebody has to be the villain.
Do you prefer your books in print or e-book format?
I like both, but lean toward print. Although, it’s pretty great to download an e-book and have it in less than five minutes.
What are you currently reading?
The Book Thief, although, I’m having a hard time getting motivated to finish it. My son’s lit class is studying it, and I thought it would be fun to read something together so maybe we could talk about it. Then I released my latest novel, “A Groovy Kind of Love,” did one book tour and now am on another one, so time just got away from me.
What is your favorite book?
Pride and Prejudice.
Who is your favorite author?
It’s difficult to narrow it down. I love so many for a variety of reasons. Okay, here’s a small list: Jane Austen, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, and Neil Gaiman.
Humor me, because this is my favorite (mythical) animal: Would you ever consider putting a platypire in one of your books?
You were so kind to have me here today, of course I would consider it. But tell me, what is the allure of the platypire?