A Collection of Recommended Reading

Words contain worlds

LaDonna Witmer
24 min readDec 24, 2023

Books have long been my best friends. I grew up barefoot in the cornfield-studded countryside with nanny goats and Jesus as my closest companions. There was no television in our house, no Saturday morning cartoons. But there were books. Shelves stuffed with garage-sale randos and my father’s collection of organic farming manuals. Archie comic books and Richard Scarry’s illustrations. My Nana’s cast-off collection of mystery and romance novels. A few Nancy Drews, a Bobbsey Twin.

Best of all there was the Dixon Public Library, a stately stone building on South Hennepin Avenue that looked like a castle to my child-size eyes. My mother would drop my sister and I there, armed with an empty apple box, and leave us to read and scavenge while she stocked up on groceries at the Eagle.

Each week, we filled that apple box to the brim with books and each week we read every single one, escaping into worlds of hobbits and centaurs and magic and mayhem.

As an adult, I have consistently spent a sizable portion of my paycheck on books. I don’t go to the library so much anymore because any book I love, I want to have and hold forever. The bulk of the boxes that crossed the Atlantic with us were stuffed with books — old friends I refused to leave behind.