002: We’re All People Watchers with Eunice Groark

Admit it, you do it. So do we. What does that have to do with reading? Everything if you want to know what’s good to read next. If Eunice Groark sees a book in your hands, your chest heaving with laughter, or tears rolling down your cheeks, she might just come over and ask what it is you’re reading. Know this, that’s what happens to her when a book captures her spirit. And, yes, you’re welcome to ask the book title while she’s having a moment.

Who is Eunice Groark? She’s my neighbor, and she could be yours too. Raised in New England, she recalls summers spent in Vermont in which half the fun was getting lost in the woods, or the stacks of local libraries, and checking out books to read in the shadows of trees.

Eunice is a student of history who loves books that combine historical time periods with compelling stories of human interest. No wonder she loved Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, gave it to me as a birthday gift, and gushed over the details of why she thought I’d like it. Boy did I ever!

The conversation with Eunice not only takes you into her reading world, it also takes you into her family life. She’s the oldest of three sisters. They all read, a lot, and they have their own reading club. And if it’s good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for you.

Related Books

Unbroken

by Laura Hillenbrand

The Boys in the Boat

by Daniel James Brown

Who Was Annie Oakley?

by Stephanie Spinner

Little House on the Prairie

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Angle of Repose

by Wallace Stegner

Crossing to Safety

by Wallace Stegner

Full Podcast Transcript

[00:00:12] Recorded live from the Sweet Tea studios in Wellesley Massachusetts. You’re listening to the podcast. Why I read non-fiction. Hosted by broadcaster and author The Perfect Catch and Follow the Dog Home.  Here’s Kevin Walsh.

[00:00:30] (Kevin) Hello welcome to Why I Read Nonfiction. I’m your host Kevin Walsh, I appreciate you coming on board. We have a great guest for you today Eunice Groark. One of my neighbors from Wellesley, Massachusetts is here. Thank you to Nirvana on Cape Cod for sponsoring why I read non-fiction. It’s as much about the reader and probably more so than about the books we discuss a deep dive into why we love to read how we do it or habits. What books have moved us over the years. What was going on in our life at the time. We write a book to receive the show automatically be sure to subscribe and you can hit the subscribe button in your listening directory. It’s easy and it’s free. So Eunice welcome to the program I’m so glad you’re here. (Eunice) Thank you. (Kevin) And I want to say thank you for giving me probably the best book I ever read.

[00:01:17] You gave me Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption a couple years ago by Laura Hillenbrand. Why did you think that would be a good fit for me?

[00:01:24] (Eunice) I had just finished reading the book and it’s just you know there’s certain books you come across in life that have such a tremendous impact on you that this story takes you to a different place. But also it’s an experience it’s a true life experience and when I finished it I don’t know if you’ve had this but you finish a book and you just want to share it and you think a little bit about who I want to share it with and I just remember at that time I was at the bookstore and I saw it and for some reason you and I have been talking about books and I saw it and I thought I know someone who would love this book. And I think as I shared with you I’d only given the book to just a few people because I just thought I whoever reads it I want them to have a similar reaction that I did.

[00:02:05] (Kevin) It’s the gift that keeps on giving because I’ve recommended that book to a number of people. And I think what I really liked about this was it not only was it a very interesting story with Louis Zamperini who is an American sprinter who grew up in Los Angeles but he wasn’t the Olympic athlete that we think of today. Do you remember he was just like a scrawny little kid?

[00:02:24] (Eunice) Oh yeah. And getting in fights all the time and I think almost the running was just a way for him to either get away from a fight or just to blow off some steam. I mean it was just he had a crazy childhood.

[00:02:34] (Kevin) Well he had a good influence in his life. It was his older brother who they recognized he had talent.  (Eunice) That’s right. (Kevin) And we think of today in my line of work I’m always talking about professional sports. But back then the big four as we know them now the NHL the NFL the NBA Major League Baseball they weren’t off and running the biggest sports in the world at the time were track and field which was probably number one by far, horse racing and also rowing.

[00:03:01] So Louis had an opportunity to make something of himself but didn’t have the training back then that we would have. He just happened to be really fast.  (Eunice) Just really fast. He was just had this talent.

[00:03:15] (Kevin) So he ended up going over to Berlin Germany which in addition to his interesting story and how he got over there, there were some world events going on.

[00:03:24] And do you remember with Nazi Germany?  It wasn’t quite… (Eunice) It wasn’t quite there.  There had been talk about it and what they how they should handle themselves and they were there. But in the world and understand what was happening in Germany at that time and of course for Hitler the Olympics were an opportunity for him to put forth this new ideology this new strong government and really kind of present where they were coming from.

[00:03:49] But for these guys they were just a bunch of kids that were coming going over to run in the Olympics.  (Kevin) And they were going to do the best they could.

[00:03:56] And what the outside world didn’t know because now the world has shrunk with technology and with travel we can see other places. But Berlin at the time was really almost like the Hollywood of Europe, it was a cosmopolitan city, it was a beautiful city. And as some athletes who were training to go over there there were a number of people there, the Jews in particular, and we all know what happened there that were like “Ya know the maybe you guys should stay around for a while” because we think we’re going to have some problems in the rest of us… well, we just didn’t know.  (Eunice) We didn’t know absolutely. (Kevin) Until the black curtains went up and then world history changed forever.

[00:04:29] (Eunice) But I think to your point what made that book so great especially that part of the book was it was our opportunity to go with Louis to Germany at that time and kind of see both the glitz and all of that but also to experience that beginning of what was going to come.  And again to your point, now we might be able to have access to that knowledge, but at the time the world didn’t so it gave us insight into that period of history which maybe we never had the chance to explore before. (Kevin) Our guest on Why I Read Nonfiction is Eunice Groark.  Eunice is a dedicated reader one of my neighbors and in Wellesley Massachusetts.

[00:05:04] But his story didn’t just end there. It went to the Pacific theater as well. But let me take a dive into your personal reading history. You love to read don’t you? (Eunice) Oh I love to read. I love to read. (Kevin) Where does it go back to where does it come from?

[00:05:18] (Eunice) I…. so my mother was a huge reader. She loved to read and as kids growing up we grew up in Hartford Connecticut. And every Saturday I think to get us out of the house probably initially she would take us to the her for public library and we were told we could get eight books and we would gather up these books and we would take the bus every Saturday go down get the eight books we have a week to read them and then we’d go back the next Saturday and it was really a highlight. And it’s interesting talking to my two sisters because when we were raising our kids every Saturday we take our kids to the library. It was just something that we did and something my mother instilled in us as we grew older we would spend our summers up in Vermont and to kind of pass the time again go to the library and that’s for me when I really discovered nonfiction and I remember reading books about Annie Oakley or George Washington Abe Lincoln and both being transformed by these historical figures but also they became real to me because I had a chance to learn about what it was like for them to grow up with their hardships were what decisions they made what really shaped them as both human beings and then to have an impact on history. And for me that was just opening up this whole world that I didn’t know anything about.

[00:06:26] (Kevin) Where do you fall in your sisters?  (Eunice) I’m the oldest of three. (Kevin) OK. Do you feel that responsibility as the older sibling?   (Eunice) Absolutely. (Kevin) Do you recommend books to your sisters?

[00:06:35] (Eunice) I do but you know what we recommend books to each other and it’s interesting.  My youngest sister is a writer, and she will encounter interesting books that she’ll share with me. My middle sister travels all the time so she’ll read a combination of both really light fiction, you know something you know a beach read and then the next minute she’ll be saying you should The Boys in the Boat.

[00:06:58] And in fact I think she’s the one. One of my sisters is the one that had suggested Unbroken to me which is how I discovered it.

[00:07:05] (Kevin) So you guys almost have your own private reading club?

[00:07:07] (Eunice) We do because we read all the time we spend our summers together. And in the summer we just pass books amongst the three of us. And it’s a range of everything and to an intense read a light read you name it we’ve read it.

[00:07:17] (Kevin) Do you have the same interests and likes in reading? Or could one of your sisters love a book and then you read it you’re like No it’s not for me or it’s pretty much spot on? You you like the same things?

[00:07:27] (Eunice) Absolutely we’ll have a discussion about it. And even when my mom was alive I mean again we read a lot. We would, dinner conversation could be around a book. Oh did you read that what did you think? Oh I really? I didn’t like that really? I love that.  And that would be the conversation.

[00:07:40] (Kevin) Do you have a particular pattern do you prefer reading in the morning?  In the evening? Or is it just whenever you can do it?

[00:07:46] (Eunice) It’s usually whenever I can do it most… given how busy life is it’s at night.  Sometimes I’ll sneak in, don’t tell my husband, a little reading in the middle of the day, but I feel really guilty if I do it.

[00:07:56] (Kevin) No, no, no.  But you shouldn’t feel that way because reading is… is always time well spent, especially when you’re reading something that that moves you. Do you feel like when you’re reading something that you’re kind of taking on the characteristics of the characters in the books where you’re vicariously living through them and you’re you’re wondering how would I go about my life if I were in that situation?

[00:08:17] (Eunice) Absolutely.  I’ll find myself doing that or, if they’re making choices that I don’t agree with I’ll question why are they making that choice? Why are they doing that? How would I handle that situation if I were put in those in that position?

[00:08:31] (Kevin) See that’s a mark of a good book because I think, I think that’s the human condition.  (Eunice) Mmmhmmn. (Kevin) We all people watch don’t we? (Eunice) Absolutely. (Kevin) Where’s the best place in the world for you to watch people? Can it be anywhere? (Eunice) Sports, a sports game. (Kevin) You just so you’re watching?  (Eunice) I love to watch people. (Kevin) The action on on the field or on the floor, but you’re watching the fans reaction elsewhere? (Eunice) Yes, oftentimes I am. (Kevin) And you see the ones that stand out? (Eunice) Yep. (Kevin) Do you sometimes zero in on the people that maybe are not cheering or don’t seem to have that charisma about them?

[00:09:01] (Eunice) Exactly and I’m fascinated. Why not? Or why are they obsessed with their phone the whole time. You know now our society addicted to our phones and I think why are they not enjoying the game? How lucky they are to be here. If you’re a Red Sox game on a gorgeous, you know, summer evening and you’re and of course I’m taking in the game but I’m looking around and I’m thinking why is that person on Instagram the whole time taking selfies?

[00:09:20] I don’t understand that.  (Kevin) And that erodes from the time that we read we may be reading on our phones but there’s nothing like cracking open a book.  (Eunice) No absolutely. (Kevin) or reading on our Kindle. Our guest today on Why I Read Nonfiction is Eunice Groark. One of my neighbors in Wellesley Massachusetts Why I Read Nonfiction is brought to you by Nirvana. A beautiful Cape Cod a stunning beach house on a private freshwater kettle pond loaded with fish and perfect for swimming not just summer spring and fall on the Cape are stunning. That’s when the trout come alive. Nirvana on Cape Cod is my favorite place in the world to fly fish and if you can’t catch fish there I don’t know where you can catch fish and all the books that we talk about by the way you can find on my Web site which is the same as the title of the program Why I read Nonfiction.com. Have you ever bailed on a book before Eunice?

[00:10:08] (Eunice) I have and it’s it’s an interesting thing because really up until probably about five years ago I would never let myself do it. I would just muster through that book.  (Kevin) Why was that? (Eunice) Because I was that I felt a commitment. If I picked up that book I felt committed to read it. I felt that I had to see it through and I think I always had even if it was just a book that did not work for me I always thought I’m gonna find something endearing in this book that I will enjoy or I will learn from or just something. But lately I think maybe it’s part of getting older, you know, suddenly you realize you don’t have to be friends with everyone. I don’t have to be friends with all my books.  So I usually give it a good try. I try to get to 50 or 100 pages and then if it’s not working for me I have a stack of other books I’ll move on to the next one.

[00:10:49] (Kevin) Well I admire your perseverance because a lot of what we’ve had to read is as educated people was stuff that we didn’t really want to read. Well we had to see it through to the end. (Eunice) Yeah.  (Kevin) because we knew we’d be tested on it. (Eunice) Yes. (Kevin) The difference now is we get to choose the books, (Eunice) Yes, (Kevin) they’re not chosen for us so we can we can do whatever we want with them. You ever get emotional when you read?

[00:11:10] (Eunice) Absolutely I tend to get so caught up in the character. And when I finish a book I could be laughing, I could be crying, I’ll do it anywhere because I just tend to get so wrapped up in my book, and the next thing you know the tears are streaming down my face and there I’m sitting next to someone on an airplane maybe just trying to disguise it a little bit bu huh, huh, huh.

[00:11:29] (Kevin) But if you see somebody if, if that person next to you was having a similar moment to what you’ve had in reading before, might you ask them what they’re reading? (Eunice) Absolutely.

[00:11:38] Or, I’d be turning my head to shyly look and see what book they’re reading because I think I’ve got to read that book.

[00:11:44] (Kevin) I do it all the time.  (Eunice) Yeah. (Kevin) I do it is the gym. I half accost people when they’re on the elliptical, or if they’re they’re able to read while they’re on a treadmill because if they’re engrossed in something I, I think it’s one of the best compliments you can pay to a person ask them what they’re reading because it just opens up so much about them.

[00:12:03] (Eunice) Absolutely, and there’s so many wonderful books out there and how else would you know about a good book unless you asked?  Or if somebody gave you that book. But I think that’s part of it, and it’s a whole, there’s kind of a whole culture around that. That opportunity to explore books and learn about them from other people.

[00:12:17] (Kevin) Do you believe in the premise that we should read what our friends do or what they suggest?  Because they’re our friends for a reason they have similar interests and if it’s good enough for them it’s probably good enough for us.  That’s worked for me. Has it worked for you?

[00:12:30] (Eunice) Absolutely. And I’m always asking for recommendations for that very reason because sometimes I’ll go to a library or to the bookstore and I think, ok, I’m looking for a great book and it can be so overwhelming. If you would go in just blind. You have no, no list or anything, and I think I really need a recommendation. So if I’ve had a recommendation from of friend the first thing I’m going to do is look for that book, or if Wellesley Books for example I’m going to read, you know, staff choices. Why did they like that book? I want to know why?  Maybe I’ll have a similar experience, or maybe I won’t.

[00:13:00] (Kevin) I want to go back to Unbroken and then just move the theater over to what happened in the Pacific. So Louis Zamperini he goes over to Berlin, steals a bunch of Nazi artifacts not because he he’d liked that lifestyle. I looked at it is almost like he’s like a fraternity boy in a small town.  (Eunice) Yes, (Kevin) like trying to steal road signs so he can hang them in his room to disguise a yes I was really there because a lot of friends back in Los Angeles really didn’t believe him that he was going over to the Olympics. But he comes home and he’s not, he’s not so much the hometown hero that Olympic athletes would be today.  In fact he gets drafted into the military. He’s on a plane heading over to the Pacific theater and he gets shot down, and then he ends up in a life raft for more than a month. (Eunice) Yeah. (Kevin) What were your memories of what were you thinking about when he was sitting in that life raft waiting to be rescued?

[00:13:51] (Eunice), There’s so much about that book that is just so riveting and that is absolutely a section of that that I just the way in which that part was written was so descriptive and suddenly there you were on that raft with him and you would feel your mouth go dry just thinking about how desperate he was for water, you’d feel your skin burning just the sensation of the sun every day, (Kevin) and the sea lice and eating away at your your lips? (Eunice) Absolutely. I mean it just came to life it was just, uh, the fact that he survived and there he was with other people from his plane some of whom did not survive. And that experience together is just unbelievable.

[00:14:32] (Kevin) Catching fish and also stringing up lines so they could clip a bird as it was going by to eat the meat of the bird but to suck the moisture out because you can’t drink seawater that will just accelerate your death. And then he was rescued by the Japanese and was was a prisoner of war and was tortured unmercifully.  (Eunice) Unmercifully. (Kevin) And and I think that is a part of history that we did not learn about, (Eunice) absolutely, (Kevin) in American history and that was the beauty, or what was a painful part of reading, but I think it was a forgotten part of history, largely because of geography, because Europe was much closer. We had most of us come from Europe. Our roots are there. (Eunice) Yup.  (Kevin). But the other side of the globe and Asia was totally different. There was a lot more going on and we just never really knew about that. (Eunice) We didn’t know that.

[00:15:18] And I also feel like when you study World War 2 there’s so much focus on Nazi Germany and, and Russia too and all that happened during that time but yet we forget about the other part of the world and that was one of the things I really gained so much knowledge when I read Unbroken was that, that experience he had in the camps while he was over there and I remember when I finished thinking I was desperate to learn more because I just didn’t know that much about it. And as a kid I read so many books about World War II you know you read Anne Frank and all of that all of which had such a tremendous impact on me and I thought, but there’s this whole part of history I never knew anything about.

[00:15:56] (Kevin) Yeah I think most for most American history learning we we know about Pearl Harbor, we know about the surrender and Tokyo Harbor but we don’t know about the atrocities and what Imperial Japan really was doing absolutely to Asia was similar to what Hitler was doing in Europe. He was taking over countries. The prejudice in that part of the world is unbelievable, and still by the way, exists today.

[00:16:17] (Eunice) Absolutely. It’s interesting some of our closest friends are growing up are Chinese and the husband and wife escaped China during that period of time and, uh, now you know here you think growing up and hearing a little bit about that but it just never resonated again the history books were too big and too prominent my life for me to learn war. And so as I read that book I reflected back on so many of those conversations we had as kids thinking “oh my gosh this is what they were talking about.”

[00:16:46] (Kevin) Well I ended up living in Hawaii and then in Guam places that were we know the impact that Japan had on there. I think Guam is often the untold story. It was only American land that was occupied by a foreign invader and if not for the U.S. Marines coming in and kicking the Japanese out, there’s a whole race of people the Chamorro People that they will tell you if not for the Marines they would have been gone because the Japanese weren’t just acquiring land they were systematically exterminating people much like Hitler wanted to do with the Jews in Europe. (Eunice) Yeah.  (Kevin) That’s what Japan was doing. They were killing all the men to eliminate the races. And but what’s left over from that is just who’s running the show in Asia. And I remember seeing because Guam was very much a touristy place which which had the American military footprint was was very strong. There was you could see the different tourists coming over and Japan was very much on top but there was a pecking order. And I’m like “this looks like prejudice to me”; and then some of my friends who I worked with the photographers at the TV station they’re like this is life in this part of the world.  (Eunice) Isn’t that interesting? (Kevin) And I think so often we we see things through our own prism the experiences that we have with racism and prejudice in this country. We either see through black or white or something else, but it’s prevalent across the globe and different cultures isn’t it?

[00:18:09] (Eunice) Yup it’s that idea of Darwinism which is terrible and how that can play out in different ways where one race can think it’s better and you’re right, I mean, we see it play out in different ways across the globe.

[00:18:20] (Kevin) Our guest today is Eunice Groark. Eunice is one of my neighbors in Wellesley and sometimes the best readers they’re just all around you. (Eunice) That’s so true.  (Kevin) They’re right next to you and they’re your friends have a conversation with your friends find out what they’re reading.

[00:18:34] I think you’ll be happy. The books that we talk about today that Eunice is talking about be it Unbroken or something else. They’re all, uh, you can get links to them on our Web site which is whyireadnonfiction.com.  Our sponsor Nirvana beautiful Cape Cod. If you haven’t been to the Cape you should go not just for the summer but also for the spring and the fall. And it’s just a fantastic place to wet a line and spend some time with your family and read some books along the way.

[00:19:00] The Boys in the Boat that was one of my favorite books. I thought that would be one of your favorite ones because I know you have a rowing history. (Eunice) Mmmmhmmm. (Kevin) It didn’t quite catch on with you. Why not?

[00:19:11] (Eunice) I think at the time and I do think we all have intimate relationships with our books. You know we pick them up and they either click or they don’t click. And getting back to your point about putting a book down. So as I shared with you I’ve gotten to that stage in life where I can put a book down and I’ve learned sometimes it’s just not the right time in life. And so that book came to me highly recommended by my sisters both of whom read it, loved it, would probably argue one of the best books they’ve ever read. And I was so excited to read it and I picked it up and I think at that time my father had just become incredibly ill, and I thought I can’t do this right now. This is just a little bit too much work for me I’m spending so much energy on his care and so I put it down and it’s a book I look forward to revisiting.

[00:19:54] (Kevin) I think you will. I think you will like it. But it is a slow burn. It doesn’t get right into it. (Eunice) Yeah.  (Kevin) I think the difference with Unbroken you, you’re falling in love with Louis Zemperini right away, so you’re engaged with the story. There’s a little slow build up for those that are not familiar with it. It’s the story of the University of Washington rowing team. And basically these lumberjack boys from, and take yourself back in time, this is leading up to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where rowing was really dominated by the elite institutions on the East Coast and was very much a prep school kind of sport. Here are these like tough you know lumberjack kind of guys that have nothing.  We’re coming out of the Roaring 20’s, but we’re deep in The Depression right now. And they ended up being the boat that ended up going to the Olympics. What I liked about it so much Eunice was I didn’t, I didn’t like rowing at the time. I kind of looked at rowing as I think my friends growing up looked at golf and I play golf. And they’re like “Why do you play golf? Golf is stupid!” And I’m like you’re just in a boat, you’re rowing it. But what the author did so well is he took me inside the scull. And this, you would appreciate as a rower, there’s so much pain and sacrifice involved.  Your personal skin that you have in it, but the collective sacrifice that you make for your teammates and for me that was the difference. And then I got it. (Eunice) Yeah. (Kevin) And I felt pretty foolish about my feelings in the past. (Eunice) laughter. (Kevin) But that’s a mark of a good book too. (Eunice) It is. (Kevin) when it changes your view on things.

[00:21:24] (Kevin) Absolutely I couldn’t agree more. And I think any book that does that and you know that the writer has completely captured you. They’ve done such a great job in their descriptive writing, they take you on that journey. Suddenly you’re in that boat with them feeling that pain. That’s, that’s a sign of a good writer.

[00:21:40] (Kevin) And the main character in it. He was orphaned. He put himself through college. He, he succeeded athletically and then the boat goes over to Berlin and there’s Hitler again. He was so proud of what he’s about to do and unleash on the world unfortunately, and there are his perfect Aryan boys: muscular and sculpted, blond hair and blue eyes.  And then these rough tag Americans come and kick their butts! (Eunice) Laughter. (Kevin) And it just seems like justice in so many different ways, it’s so good. (Eunice) Oh yes!

 

[00:22:13] (Kevin) So that’s what awaits you on, at the end.  (Eunice) Exactly! (Kevin) So I did that I would encourage you to get back into that. OK. I want to talk about some of your your other books on the other side of Why I read non-fiction brought to you by Nirvana on beautiful Cape Cod. Do us a favor tell your friends about the podcast and subscribe.  Go to your directory in your podcast platform and hit subscribe.

[00:22:34] It’s easy and it’s free. Some of the books you like to read were about the West in Annie Oakley had a profound influence on, on your life. Who was she? Bring us is up to speed;

[00:22:46] for those that didn’t know who the marksman or markswoman it was.  (Eunice) Laughter. Annie Oakley was a sharp shooter and she was out in the West, and she you know, she picked up a gun. I think there’s that song Annie Get Your Gun. And she ended up being very successful and would participate I guess and sharp shooting competitions and, and won, and actually became renowned for that. But for me it was that first entree into the West, the Wild West. Now back again being a little girl up in Vermont reading this book about a young girl at the age of 15 being recognized for her sharpshooting skills. And I think all of that unleashed this fascination with the West and what it must have been like for the first settlers that you know people traveling across the prairie.  (Kevin) The Oregon Trail, the covered wagons. (Eunice) All of that I just became fascinated, and for me it led into a discovery of Laura Ingalls and, you know, Little House on the Prairie and I just, I must have read those books over and over again. I couldn’t get enough. And I think that helped to instill a love of the land and open space that I’ve carried with me throughout life and eventually led me to Wallace Stegner who is probably perhaps one of my most famous favorite writers. He wrote a lot about the West in open space and he was a fascinating writer because he wrote both fiction and nonfiction. And, uh, I’ve read both of his books. And there he, he, his description of what it was like to settle the West in for example Angle of Repose he talked a lot about Leadville, Colorado in the 1800’s and the hardships of living there. But then you could pick up books that he wrote about creating the Hoover Dam. I mean he just all of that discovery, and all of that and all that happened in that part of the world it’s just amazing.

[00:24:37] (Kevin) What’s your connection with him? You ended up living with him?

[00:24:40] (Eunice) So I ended up, uh, I had discovered Wallace Stegner probably in my 20’s and read a lot of his work, and we ended up living in San Francisco. And when I was there I ended up working for Wallace Stegner Environmental Center as the center that I ran. It was housed at the San Francisco Public Library. Actually what I did as I worked with a variety of different authors, and bringing books to life through author series or different discussions around environmental issues. But, for me at the time when I had that job while Stegner had died.  He died in a car accident in the 80s and this is probably the early 90s. But I had a chance to develop a relationship with Mary Stegner, spent time in their home, got to visit his studio, and really, for me, it was such an incredible opportunity here was this author I discovered years before and he just came to life with me and that relationship.  (Kevin) And that book that was your ticket in. If you didn’t read some of those original books that

[00:25:31] doesn’t set everything in motion that, that brings you out there and connects you with these people.

[00:25:36] (Eunice) Oh absolutely.  I probably remember looking for a job and thought I would have thought, Wallace Stegner?  What’s that? But for me, when I saw it, I thought I have to have this job. This is just so wonderful. And then to have a chance to work with people like Gary Snyder and some great writers at the time was just amazing.  (Kevin) Crossing to Safety was one of your favorite books?  (Eunice) That was one of that was the last book that he wrote, and that’s not it’s, it’s pretty like what? What do they call it?  Historical fiction. So it’s nonfiction, but it has, he added a little bit of his own to it.

[00:26:07] (Kevin) He ginned it up a little bit, but a lot of it could be. (Eunice) He ginned it up. (Kevin) That’s what a lot of fiction is by the way.  It’s based on reality because how do you just completely invent something out of your head? (Eunice) Exactly. (Kevin) You got to have something to draw from, some perspective.

[00:26:19] (Eunice) Exactly. And it’s funny I talked a lot with Mary Stegner his wife about that book because it’s so much about their relationship and how they met and the choices that they made and how how when you’re faced with a crossroad in life what’s the decision you make?

[00:26:35] (Kevin) Don’t you love those stories of how people met?  (Eunice) Oh I love those. (Kevin) We all have one. (Eunice) Yeah absolutely.  (Kevin) I mean I could tell you the story how I met my wife. (Eunice) Yup. (Kevin) And you think about how you met your husband? (Eunice) Yeah.  (Kevin) There are certain stories that we hear over and over again, but they’re different because they’re different people, right?

[00:26:49] (Eunice) Exactly. Oh absolutely. But but like you said I mean it’s again it’s it’s you creating a relationship with a book and a relationship with a character. So as you’re reading that you are you’re thinking back oh that’s how I met my husband. Goodness that’s how they met.

[00:27:02] Isn’t that interesting?  (Kevin) That goes back to the people watching thing.  (Eunice) Exactly. (Kevin) I tell everybody it is the oldest sport in the world. You like doing it at sporting events? (Eunice) I know.  Yep. (Kevin) But we’re all voyeurs in a good way. We know what we have, but we see what’s on the outside and we wonder what’s going on in their lives?  And nothing takes us closer to the core of it all than a good read, right?

[00:27:24] (Eunice), Absolutely absolutely because you do. Going back to that idea of being at a baseball game watching that person.  You know maybe they’re not talking to the, you know, it’s a couple and they’re not talking to each other and whaddaya think?  Gosh what’s going on in their lives and you start to create a story. It’s the same idea with the book.

[00:27:37] How many books you have on the nightstand? (Eunice)  I probably have about 15. (Kevin) Yeah, that’s pretty high!  (Eunice) I know, I know I have a lot of reading to do.

[00:27:47] (Kevin) So when you’re reaching over to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock you just topple them over?  (Eunice) I do.

[00:27:53] And that’s the real wake up the books falling down?  (Eunice) They’re starting to stack up next to the bed.  The poor dog. She doesn’t like that.

[00:28:00] (Kevin) Our guest has been Eunice Groark here on Why I Read Nonfiction.  For more about the books that we discussed, log onto why I read nonfiction.com.  And thank you to Nirvana beautiful Cape Cod for sponsoring the show. Keep in touch with us here. Tell a friend about the podcast and subscribe. That certainly helps us out in every way. Eunice it was a pleasure talking to you can come back again sometime?  (Eunice) I would love to. Thank you. (Kevin) Okay. For Eunice Groark, I’m Kevin Walsh. Thank you for listening to Why I Read Nonfiction. We’ll see you again down the road.

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