I realized this week that I don’t talk enough on this blog about reading.
The blog has become about writing, which as an emerging writer and someone who edits others’ writing, I appreciate and am passionate about. But two years ago I imagined that if I ever had a blog it would be a book blog, so as I wrap up this summer series of mini-blogs, I have to stop for a minute and talk about reading.
I learned to read when I was four. Literally less than two weeks after getting my first glasses. My mom felt guilty that I hadn’t gone to get my eyes checked sooner because I would have read sooner. I can remember my first time reading. I can remember the words just suddenly making sense.
I spent four years as the school librarian of a school serving kids with dyslexia and related reading and writing challenges, so I know everyone’s story isn’t that easy. Only about one in ten kids will magically learn to read like I did. Six in ten will need some formal instruction, and three in ten will need a lot of formal instruction and possibly academic interventions. For a lot of people, “reading for pleasure” is a difficult thing since reading at all took so much work in the first place.
For me, reading is a lifeline. A co-worker at a library once told me that when she started working in libraries she found herself almost physically hungry for reading, for stories, for books. It can be overwhelming to work in that giant room filled with books.
I am a fast reader, and as such, re-reading is a joy for me. I pick up on so much detail and nuance I missed the first time.
I am also a professional librarian, so I have training in readers’ advisory, which is the art of recommending books. It’s a delicate art, and I was also a youth services librarian, so my knowledge of adult books is really limited. If you want to learn more about readers’ advisory, I highly recommend the talented superstar librarian Nancy Pearl and her writing. Nancy is a celebrity librarian. She is literally an action figure.
Also if children’s books are your thing, I would be remiss in not recommending Esme Raji Codell, the self proclaimed readiologist and author of the totally delightful Diary of a Fairy Godmother. I want to be her groupie.
Favorite books? Oh, I knew you were going to ask me that. A Wrinkle in Time. Anne of Green Gables. Never in a Hurry by Naomi Shihab Nye (which my toddler pulled off my shelf and handed to me today, God love him.) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25. Where the Wild Things Are. Betsy-Tacy and its sequels. Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Should I just keep listing them?
Notice my list is not just fiction. Or nonfiction. Or grown-up books. Or chapter books. Or modern books. And some might even be books you hate.
So why do a short blog post on reading? As a reminder. Because sometimes we forget that we are in the business of entertaining people and getting them to like what we create. Because sometimes we forget to be consumers of good literature ourselves. Not just as research. Not just to support your author friend. Not just to read in your genre or category. Oh yes, for those reasons. But for many more reasons. And for the simple reason that there are good books.
That’s reason enough for me.