I love to read. There I said it. I’m a bookworm. Judge all you want.
My parents are well-read. C. S. Lewis and Tolkien were household fixtures. Ironically, as a first grader I had trouble reading. My teacher split the class into three reading groups (cleverly named Blue Birds, Red Birds and Yellow Birds), with each group taking turns reading the assignment aloud with her. I was in all three groups. I didn’t mind having to read the same story three times so much as I resented having to complete my ‘busy-work’ worksheets while the other kids got to play (Ohhhh Yes, Ms. Huffman, I remember). Despite, this early confrontation with literature, I still love to read. A particularly memorable Christmas gift was a set of “Great Illustrated Classics”. It was six book set that included: Ivanhoe, The Hunchback of Notre Dam, The Secret Garden, Treasure Island, Huckleberry Fin and Black Beauty. I devoured the books and continued to re-read them as I got older. In middle school, my teachers crafted our reading lists of Newbery Medal winners. Maniac Magee, Number the Stars and The Giver. These were serious books, fit for children but appreciated by adults. In honors english we dissected To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter and Lord of the Flies. My teacher found ways to keep us interested and treated us with screenings of the movie version after we completed the book.
As an adult, I admittedly read ‘trashy’ books. Paranormal Romance is my favorite genre with some Fantasy and Mystery mixed in. A ‘kids book’ I read as a grown-up is the Harry Potter Series. I have read all the books – multiple times – as well as listened to the audiobooks. Jim Dale is a phenomenal narrator! In college (especially grad school) my reading was restricted to dry theory and technical data. On my own time, I enjoy reading for the same reason most people like movies and video games…entertainment. My Kindle is a marvelous device and with the ability to download books free through my local library (R.E.A.D.S.) I can get as many books as I can possibly read – for free.
Having thoroughly indulged my guilty pleasure of trashy romances, I returned to a more wholesome fare. I realized there were a lot of books I should have read by now. Books that everyone knows. Books people brag about reading and changed society. Most of the titles are even listed in the ‘Always Available Classics’ category. I confess to never having read: Moby Dick, Dracula, Anne of Green Gables, A Tale of Two Cities, 1984, Animal Farm, Crime & Punishment, Paradise Lost, The Great Gatsby…The list is embarrassingly long.
I am attempting to read The Cather in the Rye. After a month, I am still attempting. I like the narration but nothing is HAPPENING in the story. I can’t understand Holden’s, the protagonist, motives. Mostly I want to smack him and tell him to ‘grow-up’. My first attempt at enriching cultural depths flopped. I may be the wrong age/gender to appreciate the story, but it’s appeal is lost on me.
However, I loved Tarzan. Edgar Rice Burrough’s wild man was the precursor to the modern day action hero. Tarzan is too strong, too smart and too hansom to be true (and I don’t care). He is capable of wrestling lions, saving damsels and slaying the bad guy all in 182 pages.
At 27 I know there is a long list of things I should have read by now, but I also know what I like. I want the story to make sense. The ‘iceberg theory’ worked for Hemingway. I find it annoying. Whether its critically acclaimed or not, I like a good story. I want the good guy to win – and get the girl.