Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Books and Reading

I realize I should be asleep right now, but instead I find myself quite wide awake.

My little brother is visiting town for the night, and like a whirlwind that he is, he's shifted the energy of my house from neutral/negative to positive. It was good for the house. It was good for me. He's just one of those people that has an energy and vivaciousness about him, and I appreciate him being in my life. No, we're technically not related, but I've been taking care of him since we were younger. In his own way, he's taking care of me right now. I'll miss him when he moves.  He fell asleep while we were watching RED the movie with Bruce Willis. I'm sure he'll wake up in the morning and continue watching.

I thought about some of the stuff I wanted to write; there was an ever growing list of topics. Since I can't find that paper, I'll write instead about reading.

I stopped reading when I was in 5th grade.  Throughout grade school, we were told to read books. And I devoured these true-science books about nature, animals, physics, anything in the series. My teacher at the time told my mother that I wasn't allowed to read those books anymore. I had to read novels, fiction. My mother replied that at least I was reading something. Maybe they didn't understand that I hated reading fictional stories; I wanted to learn about life and nature and all its beautiful glory. No, I wasn't allowed to read non-fiction science books. My next interest was detective stories. I turned my eyes towards the Hardy Boys mysteries. My particular library was full of these books, but was incomplete. Whichever ones they had, I read. I engrossed myself with the series. During this time, I also started reading Encyclopedia Brown. Even though I was never able to solve any of EB's mysteries before going to the back of the book, I loved every bit of it. It was knowledge I craved, and I got it through EB.  My teachers said I had to branch out and read other types of books, even though these were novels by their proper definition. I really didn't want to read other books. This was what I liked. In retaliation, I stopped reading completely. If I wasn't allowed to read the books I wanted, why should I read the books they want me to read? I have no interest in them! I couldn't care less about them. They didn't have anything to offer me.

I pretty much refused to read the books assigned to us in school after that. And I stopped reading books for enjoyment. There were books I'd maybe half-read here and there: Lord of the Flies, Huckleberry Finn, A Wrinkle in Time, The Scarlet Letter (don't get me started on Nathaniel Hawthorne), Of Mice and Men. You know, the classics that they wanted us to read. That also included Shakespeare and Homer. No, I'd flip through the book, read a sentence here and there, flip some more and read a paragraph or two. Try to find Cliff Notes on the book so I wouldn't have to read it. Keep quiet in my English classes and do mediocre on my book reports. I didn't want to read these books.

Jump many years to my senior year in HS. I loved this English teacher since she had been my literary magazine club advisor. Funny, I hated reading but I had been a very active member of the lit mag since my freshman year. Active as in Editor-in-chief for my junior and senior years, some sort of editor for my sophomore year.  Our required reading for the course consisted of a non-fiction autobiographical-but-written-as-a-biographical account of the Holocaust. You may know of this book. It is Night, by Elie Wiesel.

That book was the first that I read from start to end after my rebellion. It evoked strong emotions out of me, emotions I never thought I would show from just reading a book.  It was amazing. I loved this book, and to this day, it is my all-time favourite book. I have not read it since; I'm afraid of how I will react to it. It is untouchable.

Since then, I've bent my rules about reading. Now that I'm older, I can read whatever I want. I guess it's a benefit of becoming an adult. My list is short, but I intend on expanding it in the near future. I have even gotten myself a library card!

The ever so short list of books I have read since Night:

  • Harry Potter 1 - 7* (Book 7 is my favourite...I whooped and cheered and cried, and I loved the entire series as a whole)
  • Lord of the Rings 1 - 3 (I may secretly prefer the movies because Tolkien's Middle Earth was a bit too vast and detailed for me)
  • The Hobbit (Cannot have one without the other, I suppose)
  • Chronicles of Narnia  (I'm not religious and didn't feel that the first  2-3 books had religious undertones. But as it got closer to the end, including the thick religious drabble of the last book, I started to lose interest. Still, I wanted to complete the series.) 
  • Riding Rockets* - Mike Mullane (A great first hand look at what it meant to be an astronaut. Hysterical at times, bitter in others, but to the astronaut in me, I loved every bit of it)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower* - Stephen Chbosky (Recommended by a friend. I had to put the book down because I was crying so hard)
  • The Lovely Bones* - Alice Sebold (Another recommendation. I had tissues stuffed up my nose to keep them from running. Amazing)
As you can see, there aren't that many on the list. That's OK though. I think the fact that I am reading again is the important point.

Note to future self: Keep reading!
Note to near-future self: Good job, keep on reading!!

* - denotes my favourites. I realize that the stronger the emotion that is evoked, the more I love a book. 

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