Sunday, July 25, 2010

Confessions of Book Lover

I wish this could be a flippant confession of how many books I've purchased this year (blush) but I've been really good this summer, and that's not what is on my mind.

I've been thinking about my journey and growth through books in life.  Why is it that books are air to me, and an afterthought to some around me?  I'd love to be able to say that I've had incredible literature selection skills all my life, but the truth is that it's been a journey: I have changed; I have grown.

When I was a young child, before I began going to school, my parents read to me.  My parents were determined to raise readers, and found a way in their meager budget to make sure there were books in the home.  One of my favorite things as a child was hearing my dad roar "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman!"  I loved books.

As a grade schooler, my favorite parts of the day had to do with reading and writing.  I especially loved story time in the early grades, where my teachers brought beloved chapter books to life.  The children's section of the library was a magical place.  I loved to write stories, and fell in love with Beverly Cleary and Laura Ingalls Wilder, then Frances Hodgsen Burnett and Louisa May Alcott

In the middle years, I floundered.  Writing became non-creative, regimented.  The Babysitter's Club was diverting but not satisfying.  I felt out of place in the Children's section of the library, but didn't know where to turn.  Directionless, I never found enough to read, never found something to fill me.  English as a subject was fast becoming my least favorite.

High school was a time of discovery and refocus.  I found great comfort in writing creatively: poetry, songs, short stories; but still hated the analytical, dry, dissection that English classes were.  I started to get to know my library again: enjoying the fast paced and titillating; rebelling against The Old Man and the Sea.  A few great books broke through my self-centered fog:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Three Musketeers. And then an amazing creative writing teacher at the local Community College during my 11th grade year made me realize that I did not hate English--I just missed the creativity and wonder that I had known when I was younger.

As an adult, I have found the great joy that comes with growing, maturing, learning.  I am having a great time reading all of the great stuff I missed out on in my middle years, and the classics I rebelled against in high school as being too boring.  I am discovering that Non-Fiction does not necessarily equal tedious.  I am learning a great many things, and enjoying the process.  I am wondering how the outcome might have changed if I'd had teachers focusing on the creative instead of the regimented.  I am thankful for the opportunity--every time I open a new book--to make up for lost time.  I am fearful I will never be able to read everything I desire.

If you've made it this far with me through my memory-lane-therapy, you must continue on and write me a 52 paragraph comment about your journey!  How did you get to where you are?  Was your love for books innate, fluid, continual?  Or chopped up and pieced together?  Are you making up for lost time?  On top of the world?

6 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your journey through life with books! I too remember reading Beverly Cleary and the Babysitter's Club. As long as I can remember I've always had a love for books...I now work with them everyday (Librarian). At the moment I'm devouring any books I can get my hands on! :-)
    Btw thanks for stopping by my blog on the Hop!

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  2. What a wonderful post. I am of the making-up-for-lost-time kind. I have had to read medical books all my life. The occasional stolen moments that I would read a must-read best-seller book left me with a gnawing guilty feeling that I maybe 'wasting' time not learning. Luckily, I am now winding down with work and I am reading with a vengeance!!!

    Thanks for those minutes of memory-lane therapy.

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  3. Um, you're great?

    I've always been a reader, but it wasn't because of my parents. We didn't have books in the house until I started demanding it with threats of..unhappiness? My parents still encouraged me, in a what-a-strange-kid-why-won't-she-go-outside kind of way. I took some time away from reading as a passion when I got married (my choice, not his) and am now coming back. I started my blog, and enrolled in college to get a second bachelor's degree in English, as a first step to getting a PhD and opening a publishing house in my town. Apparently, my goal is to read and collect student loan debt for a living. :)

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  4. As a teacher it's always upsetting to learn what a great job we do making kids hate reading and writing. This is a constant battle. I have pressure from parents and administration to "make sure they can write" (meaning 5-paragraph essays) and "shouldn't you be reading REAL books?" Um, sure, if we want to guarantee that they hate reading and writing, and what exactly is a REAL book anyway? I have had parents take a kid who LOVES to read, and make her write book reports on each book she reads because she's reading "too fast". Another good way to make a kid hate reading.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. Sorry for the rant.

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  5. Great post! I've gone through some very specific reading phases in my life. I felt much the same as you in the early years. High school introduced me to classics, and I was taken with them because I understood more than I ever expected to. The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations, and anything twisted--Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and Flannery O'Connor--made me swoon.

    I went through a dry spell in college until sophomore year when I found some experimental books and started reading more about art (was an art student at the time).

    From that point it's been all reading all the time. I changed my major to English, went to grad school, and now I'm a prof teaching writing, lit, and even children's lit! I get to read a ton of different books and it's never boring. And I'm always on the lookout for something I can use to ensnare my students' sense of wonder.

    Isn't the journey great?!

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  6. Thanks for your comments :)

    booksploring--how great to have a lifelong passion! Getting paid to work with books has got to be one of the best things ever.

    BookQuoter--I've definitely had times when I felt guilty reading for pleasure when there is so much to be done. I'm glad you are finally getting the chance to dive in head first!

    Jane Doe--I was the kid playing outside, wishing I had the focus and determination to beg my parents for books. And as far as goals go, I've heard worse. :)

    LJK--It really is a fine balance, isn't it? I don't know how you guys do it--30+ kiddos with different backgrounds and needs--but I am full of admiration. Thank you for being someone who cares about the love of reading.

    Andi--Sounds fabulous! I was also surprised in high school to find that classics were different than I expected. Can I be one of your students?

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