I feel the need…the need to read! and also a blog I’m enthralled by

A shot of the nonfiction bookcase

Check out Todd Pack’s blog especially this post

I was so comforted when I found this blog. Because Mr. Pack is a reader, and passionate about books. Also a really good writer. Sometimes I feel like a freak because I read so much – if I can’t read something during the course of the day I go all of a doodah; something’s wrong and I don’t know what but my brain feels disorganized. Justin actually compared my need to read to alcoholism! He’s still living that one down. I suppose he regards the large bags of library books by the front door as “empties.” It’s funny because he’s a bit of a news addict – he has to read the paper every day and he reads newsmagazines whenever he can. But apart from the odd Clancy novel on vacation he doesn’t really understand my love of fiction. I can share nonfiction with him because he loves to be a know-it-all (so do I; we must be unbearable) but fiction, not so much.

I’ve only just entered the “blogosphere” this past July so I’m still new to this world but am I glad I found it! I’ve been reading blogs for a few years, usually via RSS so I didn’t have to go searching for them, but now that I’m with WordPress I’m finding more and more great blogs. I like this one too. There are countless amazing photography blogs and endless recipe blogs. And everybody reads! I always wondered where my people were. Now I know.

I am so encouraged by the presence of so many readers, and cooks, and photographers. Blogs have also restored my faith in the ability of non-professional writers (unless everyone I’m following is a professional) to write! I get e-mail from my staff and it’s often full of “wanna” and “gonna” and “u” instead of “you” and I despair. And these are not the Japanese, these are Canadians! The texts are even worse! I suppose everyone can’t be everything; I can’t wait tables without spilling on guests; they can’t write in English. C’est la vie. My daughter is learning Japanese and French simultaneously so her written English gives me chills. I expect it will improve but it’s frightening right now. She named her male beta fish “Sapfire” which I thought was the name of some character in manga or similar. But it turns out that she meant “Sapphire!” I just found this out today and I’m still recovering from the swoon.

I took the kids to the library today – they grabbed as many fairy tales as they could get their hands on and I picked up my holds. When I have a tall pile of library books on my bedside table I want to rub my hands together and gloat like Midas. I feel rich when I have lots to read, and slightly panicked when I’m running low.

I want to introduce the girls to so much great children’s literature – I’ve done Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, (albeit only up to their move to Silver Lake as it gets quite grim in the next book, we’ll do it later), I’ve bought all of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books (I just like to reread them myself), we’ve already read Astrid Lindgren’s Emil books (I have to get these from alibis.com as most of them are out of print)….I read them A Little Princess and am planning to move on to The Secret Garden soon. John F. Fitzgerald’s The Great Brain series (as many as I could find) are on the shelves waiting for the right moment, so are the Narnia books and of course J.R.R. Tolkein as I am a bit of a Tolkein nerd and feel the need to pass this on. The thing about all of these is that they are quite old – they are books I loved when I was young, and still love. When I take the girls to the bookstore we examine the more contemporary books and I’m usually disappointed by the quality of the writing. It’s just not the same. I would love recommendations of well-written children’s books, the kind that will expand their imaginations and vocabularies and that I will enjoy reading to them. No more flower fairies, please God. But when it comes to their reading on their own, I’m just grateful if they read and at this age I don’t care much about the quality of the material; I just want them to gain familiarity with the English language, and to enjoy themselves. Discernment can come later, or, if they’re prolific readers, it doesn’t even matter as long as it’s not all dreck. I’m a prolific reader; I’ve read a lot of dreck, but a lot of good stuff too. I want them to find the happy place that is total absorption in a book.

When I was about 18, I picked up Pride and Prejudice in the library, and took it to my summer job to read during my lunch hour. I was outside in the sun and people were walking by. I noticed one woman walking by because she was staring and smiling at me. I wondered for a minute whether I had food on my face but realized she was looking at the book. I feel the same way when I see young people reading the classics, or just reading good books. It’s the way I feel when I see people with babies. I’m reassured that the good things will continue.

And I’m very happy to find so many people who love to read.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “I feel the need…the need to read! and also a blog I’m enthralled by

  1. Hi, Lea. Thanks for the kind words! I like that you discovered Pride and Prejudice on your own. That’s how I found Crime and Punishment. Without a teacher or professor hovering over my shoulder telling me in excrutiating detail why it was Great Literature, I could read it simply as a book, and it turned it’s a really good read. If I’d read it in class, I think it would have seemed old and musty.

    • Thank you for your comment! You always hear about “the classics” but they’re just titles. Yet they’re so important culturally; contemporary authors refer to them all the time. I’m glad I found Jane on my own too. To me she’s just a funny, perceptive writer. I also love Anthony Trollope, E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton. Edith Wharton’s Roman Fever (short story) is one of the best short stories ever (in my humble opinion). And I found them on my own too. I tried Crime and Punishment but I have to admit I had a hard time with it, I tried it when I was about 18…. Will give it another go some time. Can’t remember: is it a good beach read?