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Words for the Wise

A devoted married couple uses their shared love of books to keep their relationship vital and interesting.

Nancy Northrop and her husband Richie

“More books?” the salesclerk asked my husband, Richie, and me as we browsed the science section.

“We can’t get enough,” I said.

Reading books about mysterious topics and trying to understand them was one of the most intimate parts of our marriage. We called it our intellectual romance. We’d vowed to grow old and interesting together, and books were our means of doing so.

Each year, from November to March, we exchanged the winter months on our Connecticut farm for months of sunshine, books and long talks in Florida. Every year we picked a new topic to explore together.

“I told my girlfriend about you two and all your book adventures,” the salesclerk said. “She wants us to start reading books together too.”

“Do it,” I said. “Magnets, the 1920s, tornadoes, crop circles. Just choose something that interests you, and cover it from top to bottom.”

“Don’t choose herbs,” Richie advised. “It is dreadfully boring to talk for days about dill and coriander. We’re much happier with the subject we’re studying now. Maybe you and your girlfriend should start with that.”

“What?” the salesclerk said.

I held up the book we’d just bought. “Angels.”


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