Lisa Scottoline is a Philadelphia-based
best-selling author who has written more
than 30 books—both fiction and nonfiction. Taking time away from her novels
and weekly Philadelphia Inquirer
“Chick Wit” column, Scottoline penned
this Connection exclusive in which she
addresses her nose, her love of books and
her new novel, Damaged.
—Stephanie E. Ponder
BY LISA SCOTTOLINE
I GREW UP in a very loving Italian-American family with a lot of hugs, meatballs and carbohydrates. But not a lot of
books. The only reading material I ever saw
in my house was TV Guide.
I didn’t discover books until I went to
elementary school, where I became a complete bookworm. The school librarian told
my parents to take me to our local library,
which my father did, though he didn’t come
inside. He waited outside in the car like a dog.
Because there was no TV in the library.
My parents adored me, but they never
understood my love of reading. My mother
told me that it would ruin my eyes.
She was kinda right. But no matter: They
make glasses for people like me.
As a child, I chose my library books in lots
of dumb ways, like by looking in the back and
scrutinizing the signatures on the checkout
card to see if people had good handwriting.
(FYI, a library checkout card was something
they had in the olden days, when people wrote
with pens and pencils. Please tell me I’m not
the only one who remembers these antiques.)
I also picked books that had a picture of a
particular man on the spine, because he had a
really big nose, like most of my family and
me. (My mother always said we get more oxygen than anybody in the room. Like, if I
breathe in, you might die. We Scottolines
don’t mind having big noses, though I have
cousins who can barely stand up.)
So I gravitated toward those big-nose
books, only to learn later that the man on the
spine was Sherlock Holmes, which, long story
short, led to my career as a writer of mysteries
Bottom line, my love of reading was born and it couldn’t be
stopped. I don’t have a to-read
pile; I have a to-read room. If
there’s no book around, I’ll read a
cereal box. (This is how I learned
the word “riboflavin.” I have no
idea what it means, but it’s in
I buy a lot of books, which is
one of the many reasons I love
Costco, because they have tons of
books I want at the best price
ever. And I never feel guilty about
spending money on books,
because reading is
a habit that makes
me feel good
about myself. (My
other habits are
chocolate cake and
My love of reading is what inspired
my new novel,
because, ironically, it’s
about a child who has
dyslexia, a neurological disorder that causes
difficulty reading. You
may have heard that
dyslexia causes people
to reverse words and letters when they
read, but that’s not the only thing it does.
Dyslexic children cannot put sounds to the
letters or words on the page, and this is true
even though these children are intelligent,
motivated and burning with the desire to
read. Sadly, their self-esteem suffers as they
fall further behind.
That’s what happens to the little boy in
my new novel, Damaged. His name is Patrick
O’Brien, he’s dyslexic and, even though he’s
in fifth grade, he can’t read. He’s smart, but
he’s in a public school system that is not programmed for his dyslexia. Patrick needs a
champion, and she arrives in the form of a
crusading special-education lawyer who
fights for children with special needs.
Her name is Mary DiNunzio, and she’s
Italian-American. She loves to read. Also, she
comes from a family with really big noses.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
Mary takes on the entire school system
for Patrick—but suddenly the unthinkable
happens in Patrick’s family, and Mary finds
herself fighting for Patrick, even as she tries to
solve a murder.
That would be the Sherlock Holmes part.
You have to read Damaged to find out
what happens. I can’t tell you how the book
ends. I can tell you where to buy it. But if
you’re reading this, you already know. C
arts & entertainment
How reading led to writing
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Lisa Scottoline’s Damaged (Item
#1083733, 8/16) and Corrupted
(now available in paperback; Item
#1083710, 8/2) are available in
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here for video of Lisa Scottoline
talking about her new book and her love
of Costco. (See page 13 for details.)