When I was around eleven years old I discovered the public library. It coincided with my family’s move in the middle of the school year to a new neighborhood where there were not a lot of kids on my street. I became a voracious reader. However, there wasn’t a lot of direction or guidelines and at that age I had zero discernment on what was good literature. Needless to say, I didn’t develop a love for the classics. One of the first books I ever checked out was called In Times Like These by Emilie Loring and thus began my journey into the world of romance novels. I wouldn’t call her work the sort of twinkie fiction you find on most shelves today, her stories are more along the lines of Grandma’s pound cake. The occasional slice is a treat but a steady diet will probably make you fat.(Through the years I have read all of her books and collected, gotten rid of, recollected, and lost almost all of her stories. Usually set anywhere from the 1920’s to the 1960’s her heroines were unfailingly cheerful in disposition, the girl always gets the guy, the bad guy always looses, some sort of mystery gets solved and to this day I find them to be endearing and would reread them. I am fascinated by her in general in that she didn’t write her first novel until she was fifty years old.)
Unfortunately, my book reading never really matured or grew. I read what was on the shelves at the store or I what I could easily get my hands on. I read for enjoyment, pure and simple. I wasn’t looking to learn or grow, just to be entertained in the way that most people enjoy movies. I became a fast reader and I always score high on vocabulary and comprehension tests so there’s that 🙂
Fast forward to life with a husband who was also voracious reader but a thinking one who read to be informed and enriched. He’d roll his eyes at ‘my stories’ but gave up trying to encourage me to broaden my reading horizons after meeting, much to my shame, resistance. We were in the early years of the child raising life phase and I read to relax and to a certain extent, escape the world of diapers. I didn’t want to work at reading. I didn’t want to engage my brain. I wanted respite.
Fast forward some more years and now those diaper clad children are in a classical christian school where reading good literature is encouraged and a regular part of life. They track how many minutes a month they read, they have a list of books full of things I have either never read or haven’t looked at since high school English Comp class, and they talk regularly about what they’re reading. The books are shaping and forming their thinking and, at times, entertaining them.
So I’m trying. I made a goal this year of reading a certain number of books. I’m expanding fiction to include more than the contemporary off the Walmart shelf repertoire (I do have a favored author coming out with a new book next month and I plan to read it) and I have discovered some fiction by old guys that I really enjoy. I’ve never been a huge Mark Twain fan but read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and it is in my top five all time favorite books ever.*
I just finished reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and oh, my goodness, what a delightful and charming book! It was a nostalgic read. The kind that made you sigh when you finished it because you were so happy to have read it and sad that it was done.
I’m also trying to read more non fiction. The ladies in my church read The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosario Butterfield and it was challenging in all the right ways and sparked a lot of conversation.
Right now I am reading Learning Contentment by Nancy Wilson and it is hitting closer to home more than I expected. One of the most startling things that came out of it was realizing that Jesus was not just obedient in going to the cross but that He was content in the Father’s will to do so. Not just take-a-deep-breath-gotta-do-what-He-says submissive but a satisfied contented determination to do His Father’s will. That kind of contentment seems next level, doesn’t it?
I want to read more biographies and I would like to learn how to read poetry. I still enjoy a good whodunit and other mysteries. Next on my list is Wind in The Willows which I long considered a children’s book that I missed out on but I’m learning that I need to go back and read some of those stories, fables, and fairy tales. They’re rich and deeper than one might expect. I feel a little old coming to these stories and basically in trying to learn how to read correctly (not just consuming and forgetting) but if Emilie Loring can wait until she is fifty before penning her first novel, and since I am surrounded by a community of readers all giving robust support to my endeavor, here I am.
So what are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend?
*Technically I didn’t read A Connecticut Yankee, I listened to it being read by Nick Offerman and honestly I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. But the great debate surrounds the idea of what exactly do you call it when you listen to a book as opposed to reading a book? Some people believe you can say either one and others are adamantly against using the two words interchangeably. What say ye?