Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reading Tastes

I guess you could call me eclectic when it comes to what I read. First, I don't have as much time to read during the school year as I do during the summer, but I do make sure I am reading something all the time.

I read a wide variety of things. Whether this is normal or not, I don't know. First of all, I read a lot of picture books. I collect picture books, old and new, and hope one day to have those to share with grandchildren or just to pull out and enjoy myself. I know some of the books I have held onto meant a lot to my girls when they were growing up. It's funny how a book, like music, can send a person zooming back to a certain time, place or event...association.

I also read, and enjoy doing so, professional books. They just keep publishing them. I wish they would stop, but that wouldn't be good. There is always something new to learn as a teacher. I particularly have a passion for professional books about literacy...anything reading and writing. I have a number I have purchased but haven't yet read. Like fiction, I just can't keep up.

When reading as an adult, I think I have rather quirky tastes. For one thing, I don't mind reading stories that my husband would call "depressing" meaning that they have sad parts. Sometimes they don't even end happily. I like these types of reads because I believe they have things to teach me. For instance, I loved reading Angela's Ashes and Teacher Man. I love stories about people who were born into adverse circumstances and yet made it, likely because of those very circumstances which made them strong.

Every once in awhile I discover a particular author and stick with him or her. When on a trip during my 25th wedding anniversary, the condo we rented had a few novels of Joyce Carol Oates sitting around. I started in on one of those which led me to another and another. I still have a lot of hers I could pick up. She is extremely prolific, and I have to say when I saw a picture of her on the flap of one of her novels, she looked exhausted. No wonder. If anyone was to ask me what her novels are about, I really wouldn't know how to answer. So I guess I like fiction that doesn't necessarily fall into a particular category like romance (blech) or mystery.

The other day my daughter posted a comment on Facebook that she had met Colum McCann and that was very strange because I just bought Let The Great World Spin. I started it a few weeks ago and then put it down for lack of time. What I read did intrigue me and my daughter's comment reminded me to pick it up again. On the surface it is about a tightrope walker who walked between the twin towers in 1974. It's about a lot more than that of course. I don't always read off the New York Times or any bestseller list. In fact I prefer not to do that. I've never read Dan Brown.

I like memoir and biography. Even though I said I don't usually read the latest fad, I did recently buy a few Jodi Picoult books because they were on that table with the signage buy two get one free. I read her first but haven't read another. Everyone is reading them, but not me. I suppose I'll get around to them but since they are a bit of a fad I'm not all that interested. I'm not trying to be a literary snob; it's just how I feel. I'd never judge anyone for what they are reading.

On occasion I don't want to read what is a great piece of literature. My sister and I took a trip a year ago to Amish country in northern Indiana. It was a quiet, peaceful, and fun getaway. I picked up a trilogy by a not well known and not famous author who writes simple stories about the Amish life. They are sort of Amish romances I guess, and I actually have enjoyed those, although I certainly won't continue to read that author. There was something about them that made me appreciate the simple things and they were very relaxing to read. They made me want to be "plain."

I also like books about animals, most recently the one about the library cat and the one about Marley. We all know how those are going to end, but I read them anyway. Of course as a child there was My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty and National Velvet.

I grew up going to the library almost weekly and bringing home much more than I could ever read. Now I do that when I go to a bookstore, an expensive habit but one I don't feel guilty about. I must admit I don't visit the library the way I used to. Libraries aren't the same anyway. I like the old ones, with hardwood floors and rooms that echo with your footsteps, and drawers you could pull out and sit on a table to search through cards for books; I like it when librarians stamp the back of your book with the return date, etc. I'm just old fashioned that way; I miss those things. I do miss smelling books. I use to love the smell of library books. Am I weird? The main reason I don't go often is that I want to see what is newly published and they aren't always available at the library. At the bookstore I can look in the sections that show recently published fiction and nonfiction, and I can see what employees recommend. I guess the library has tried to do some of that.

There is only one thing I haven't done yet, and it is something I would REALLY like to do...be invited to, or start, a book/reading club.

P.S. I collect. I have some out of print children's books. I have a volume of letters Louisa Mae Alcott and her father wrote back and forth (very rare I think), old school books, my own primers, and even some of the Little Golden Books and Elf books with which I associate some childhood memories. When I look at one of my old Little Golden Books about a drum majoriette, I can feel myself sitting on my mother's lap and I can hear her voice reading to me.

P.P.S. Some of my favorite books: Alice in Wonderland (makes me really relate to how much kids loved Harry Potter...fantasy, Little Women, Carolyn Haywood Betsy books, The Bounty Trilogy (if THAT isn't quirky for a teen to love, then what is...but I did..still do...love the story of The Bounty), Rebecca (gothic romance is just fine), Forever Amber, the Clan of the Cave Bear series, oh dear I'd better stop now.

Did I mention I love to buy interesting looking cookbooks, even though I'm not much of a cook? I'd love to hear about anyone else's reading life and interest in starting a reading group.

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