Friday, November 28, 2008

For the Love of Reading

For as long as I can remember, books have been my best friends. When I was in elementary school, I would beg my mom to let me read "just one more chapter" before turning out the light.

Maybe I majored in English because it was just a natural fit. I generally have 2-4 books going at the same time. In a way that's reflective of my life because I am normally working on a number of major projects at the same time.

In the past few years, I have made a conscious decision to read mainly non-fiction. I have found that fiction just doesn't satisfy. In one of the latest books I read, I came across an author with similar feelings, and she put it so well:

"I never can get interested in things that didn't happen to people who never lived."
--Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Road

Since I was a child, I've wondered why true stories are called non-fiction. It's really not a very pleasant sounding word. It doesn't sound intriguing even though most non-fiction I've read is very intriguing. Why does it need to be defined as what it is not? The word actually means "not not true." I just think whoever coined the term non-fiction could have come up with a better term.

How do I find the time to read? Usually at the tail end of the day. I don't watch any TV at all--maybe 3 hours a month. Lately whenever we try to watch a movie as a family, I'm sound asleep after the first 20 minutes. I'm getting more like my dad!

We try to read to the kids every night. I can tell they are on their way to becoming life-long readers themselves. We are currently reading Little Britches by Ralph Moody to the kids. It's the story of growing up poor on a rough piece of land in Colorado. Recently Tobi has started reading to himself. Prior to this, he has read short books aloud to me. The other night he read for an hour in bed! Great accomplishment for a second grader.

I get a steady supply of good non-fiction from my British friend Kath. I've been reading her books for years, and I've never come across a lemon yet.

What are some books I've been reading in the past couple of years?
84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
The Gervase Phinn series (5 books with anecdotes of his life as a school inspector in Yorkshire, England)
Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris
Christy by Catherine Marshall (I know it's fiction, but it's based on a true story)
Little Britches by Ralph Moody (family read-aloud)
Empty Cradles by Margaret Humfreys (fascinating story of British children who were shipped off to Canada and Australia in the mid 1900s.)
Nobody's Child by Kate Adie (a history of adoption)
Eleni by Nicholas Gage (the story of why his mother was executed in Greece in the mid 1900s)
A Place for Us by Nicholas Gage (a Greek immigrant story of life in America)

Have you read a good book today?

1 comment:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I also was a great reader as a child and teen and then an English Major at L.C. But about 20 years ago, I mostly stopped reading fiction. I still read a lot, mostly about quilting, some magazines, and, for awhile, 'self-help' books, but I got tired of those. When I'm away from other intrusions and finally dive into fiction, I enjoy it, but I don't usually have it high enough on the list when I'm at home.