The Avid Reader

For MAUREEN LANG, reading isn’t just a passion, it’s a calling. Originally from Upstate New York, Lang’s life has “revolved around reading since the third grade.” While her hometown didn’t have a library and the literary pickings at school were pretty slim, the bookmobile stopped through once a week, and young Maureen checked out the maximum allowed — 10 books — every week.

“I basically read myself through that entire bookmobile. I’m not an ‘avid’ reader … the word is ‘voracious’. I read every book I could, good or bad, and the back of the cereal box.”

In college, Lang first pursued a degree in nursing, but soon switched to reading as a major. She spent two years at Northeastern in Boston and then transferred to a small Christian college in Massachusetts. It was there that she was introduced to special education.

Lang and her husband, David, moved to Starkville in 1988 when he took a position at Mississippi State University in plant and soil sciences. She spent 24 years teaching for Starkville Public Schools.

From New Mexico to New Hampshire to Wisconsin to Maine, Lang has shared her talent for teaching others to read over a career spanning nearly 40 years. A talent she considers a gift from God. “I never had trouble finding children to tutor. One child would finish their lessons and another would call the same day to begin them.”

Another sign of Lang’s spiritual connection to the written word revealed itself when she agreed to take part in a mission trip to Haiti. “I went without having a clue what I would do there. I ended up re-cataloging their school library; it held thousands of books. Again, all in God’s plan.”

Now retired from full-time teaching, Lang works part-time supervising student teachers and serving on the Starkville Friends of the Library board.

Still the voracious reader, she loves book of all kinds, from historical fiction to nonfiction to westerns, and counts Jeffrey Archer, Edward Rutherfurd and Daniel Silva among her favorite authors.

But one thing has changed since young Maureen first stepped onto that hometown bookmobile. “I used to feel compelled to finish every book I started, but there are just too many books out there to waste time reading a bad book. A good book can be read multiple times. You get something different out of it each time.”

1. As the Crow Flies by Jeffrey Archer This was the author’s first book. It’s set during Holocaust. I just love his writing. I really enjoy the Harry Clifton Chronicles as well.

2. The Auschwitz Escape by Joel RosenbergI have read a lot about the Holocaust. I’ve visited Dauchau and Anne Frank’s house, back when they would actually let you get close to the wall she wrote on, before it was encased in glass. There are lots of great books out there written about this period of history, but this one really grabbed me. It really highlights what the French, especially one town in particular, did to save the children at the time.

3. Down the Long Hills by Louis L’AmourMy son got into L’Amour’s books so I started collecting them and ended up with more than 100. This was a favorite. It’s about two children on a wagon train headed west. The train is ambushed by Indians and all are massacred save the 10-year-old boy and his little sister. The book follows their journey on horseback to reach family while being stalked by an Indian who wants the boy’s stallion. It’s just fascinating … riveting.

4. Ireland by Frank DelaneyThe tale of an Irish storyteller who travels from town to town telling stories in trade for lodging and food. Just a really sweet story with many twists and turns.

5. London by Edward RutherfurdI really like books that take the reader through multiple eras and connect generations of families. I didn’t like Rutherfurd’s first two books, but I like the rest. His books — Paris, New York, Russka — transport you to foreign places … you’re there and you don’t even realize you are learning as you read.