Reading has saved me throughout my life.
I got “hooked on phonics” in kindergarten so reading was easy to me. As a child I escaped my personal reality by diving into mysteries and sometimes, novels. I read everything: cereal boxes, road signs, anything with letters. Don’t get me wrong, I did normal things too but reading was so important that in high school, I thought I was going to be a reading teacher. It made me sad that reading was so difficult for some other kids that they didn’t get to enjoy it as I did.
Of course, I read to my child. At one point, before we all had access to the Internet, I searched the library and local book stores for Robert Louis Stevenson’s children’s poetry. I should not have been shocked that nobody had, or even knew of, such a book. I finally went to a teachers’ supply store and the saleswoman and the customers within earshot were surprised that a parent wanted to read poetry to her kid. I still have the book I bought that day.
I learned that A Wrinkle In Time was banned in some schools. Outraged, I bought a copy in protest. I must have given my first copy away a long time ago but that’s okay, means someone else got to enjoy it. I reread it as adult and it was fun. I can’t imagine stopping Tweens from reading a novel that, if I recall correctly, honors bravery, individuality and love of family.
Contrast that with the odious Atlas Shrugged, which I spent the summer reading a few years ago. A friend bought me a copy after hearing that I’d never read it. People swear by that novel but it features some very mean, self-centered people. I was outraged that in the end, the loyal assistant was left with the angry hordes while the protagonists got to live out their lives in Utopia.
On a lighter note, my uncle realized that his mother is depicted in The Beautiful Bronx, leaning out of her apartment window in, I would guess, the early Forties. You can’t see her face clearly since the picture is shot from street level but the irony is that she hated having her picture taken.
Books are important parts of my history but I don’t see myself writing one. I’m more “short and sweet.” As much as I love to share the written word, I keep the blogging thing away from the people I work with. I like that I can gleefully be a part of this writing community, playing with words and ideas without professional repercussions. In today’s environment, there is little room for error and experiment.
Books and writing are all about experiment and sometimes, gentle error.