Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Would Rather Die

So I was watching the news tonight and ABC news did a brief story on this little tidbit - 27% of Americans did not read a single book last year. You can check out the full story here. The article goes on to break down the statistics of those who do read by gender, geographic region, etc., but frankly I can't get past the thought of a person who did not read a single book last year. I can't even imagine it. I'd rather die. I probably would die if I were deprived of books. Or at the very least wish I was dead.

My family is pretty literary and books were always present in our household. My mom read to us a lot as a kid and one of my favorite memories is when she and I took turns reading chapters of The Secret Garden to each other. My mom was great with accents and she did a great job with Dicken. If you've never read this book, I highly suggest it. Uncle Remus stories were a big hit in our household too. My mom was such a great reader/storyteller that at my spend-the-night birthday parties she was always in high demand to read The Almond Tree, a really spooky/sad story that was guaranteed to give everybody the willies and an old African folk tale called Wiley and the Hairy Man that was scary and funny at the same time. Year after year, my friends would beg her to read them.

I wasn't always a fan of reading to myself, though. In fact, I can remember one day I was complaining to my mom about how bored I was and she told me to read a book. I had Emily's Runaway Imagination lying around but I quickly labeled it as BORING. She said "Finish the first chapter and then tell me if you're bored." And that was it -- I was hooked. And I've never been bored again. I devoured everything that Beverly Cleary wrote, particularly the Ramona books, as well as everything by Judy Blume, all the Nancy Drews, Trixie Belden and the 6th grade equivalent of a "trashy novel" -- the Sweet Valley High series (I so wanted to be brainy Liz with her handsome boyfriend, Todd!)

From there it just grew. I have favorites that I love to re-read from time to time (I'm not going to link to them all -- you guys are intelligent folk. If you're interested, I'm sure you can find 'em). I call them my "desert island books." A few of them are: Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle (pretty much the whole Austin Family series), A Wrinkle in Time by Ms. L'Engle again (and again, pretty much the whole Murry family series), Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher, and Heartbreak Hotel by Anne Rivers Siddons.

(A funny aside about Anne Rivers Siddons. One of the absolute coolest things about my job is that I occasionally get to meet some really great authors. This past April I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Siddons and I was beyond excited. But every time - EVERY TIME -- I tried to talk to her I would start to get all weepy. What was that all about???!! Fortunately she was very kind to me and didn't even call security or anything. What a goober I am!)

I'm also a really fast reader. Given the time and the inclination, I have been known to read a book in a day. It's only happened once recently, but that is an awesome feeling. To find a book that is so fantastic that you don't want to put it down. And that's the other great thing about my job -- I'm constantly surrounded by books. I've probably read 30 books in the last 3 months. And there's a never-ending supply.

I'm always looking for a good read. Share some of your favorites in the comments!


Laurel said...

I'm BAAAACK! You were sweet to check on me. Yes, my kids had strep, but they are on the mend. I was gone for a long weekend to CA so that is why I haven't been blogging. I am ready to stay home for a while.

I loved your blog about reading. Couldn't agree more. I always have a book going, and it is the best bordom buster ever!

Also, I have to shout out a big "Amen!" to your blog about women friends. You wrote my story! In my adulthood I have found amazing women friends. I always thought they were out there!

I always enjoy reading your thoughts. And the pictures of your Elvis? Flat out adorable!

MacKenzie said...

Some of my favorite books include:

The Brutal Language of Love by Alicia Erian

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Anything by my girl Flannery

The Pleasure of My Own Company by Steve Martin

Lulu said...

Wow! 30 books in 3 months! Dang, I wish that I had the time.

Currently (and slowly), I'm reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Great so far, if I could only find the time to read more than 10 pages a day!

Other great recent reads:

Marley & Me
A Dog Year
I, Mona Lisa