Are you a reader?
If so, how often do you read? What do you read? What determines what you read?
For me, it has varied by the seasons in my life.
When I was very young, my mother read to me—classic children’s stories and poems found in thick Whitman volumes and thin Wonder and Little Golden books. Once I could read, it was Dick and Jane, Dr. Seuss, and whatever I found of interest in my school’s library.
Later, when paperbacks were offered for sale though the school “book club,” I took great delight in making my own choices, and it was then that I started what has become a lifelong hobby—creating my own library. Those first grade school acquisitions, which I still have, though tattered and musty, include books like “Double Trouble for Rupert,” “Toby Tyler or 10 Weeks With a Circus,” “The Trolley Car Family,” “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and more.
The high school additions include such things as “The Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “The Sea Around Us.”
It was toward the end of my teen years that I discovered a book that moves me deeply and an author whose work still touches me and inspires my career today. Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” flew into my life and he still hovers nearby, pushing me toward my goals.
If my library were cataloged chronologically according to the timeline of my life instead of by the Dewey Decimal System, which helps me find what I need in an instant, the next books on the shelf would be my college textbooks, as for a few years they were all I found time to read.
Okay, you’re right. It’s all I made time to read.
Later, as I was raising a family, I added things that I could read in short spurts, authors like Erma Bombeck and Robert Fulghum, and books on parenting or inspirational and self-help volumes. A good dose of laughter and motivation is healthy for any parent, I think—don’t you?
As my kids grew older, I returned to college and rediscovered a buried passion for the history of my home state, Illinois, its authors and stories. When the last fledgling left the nest and I had time for pleasure reading, I read some novels here and there, and started reading books on writing—and practicing myself the craft that had held me mesmerized since I first saw letters on a page.
Along the way, I began my studies of my hometown author, Carl Sandburg, and home state president, Abraham Lincoln.
Works about Sandburg and Lincoln were almost all I read for a few years, until Bach’s work came back into my life and consumed it until I’d read all of his books through yet another time.
These days, though, with all of my books finally out of boxes and on their shelves after renovations and a move that had my treasured volumes out of reach for almost two years, my reading is more diversified than ever in my life.
I’ve joined a book club, which meets at a nearby winery once a month and has me reading books I’d never read otherwise—novels mostly.
But, in the past year, I’ve also read a couple of young adult novels. (Check out Richard Paul Evans’ Michael Vey series, if you haven’t already.) I’m reading classics I always meant to, such as “The Great Gatsby” and “Siddhartha.” I’m re-reading books about the craft of writing and reading some new books on social media and customer service.
Recently, one of my book club friends got me hooked on a great little volume, “The Noticer,” which gave me a good shot of perspective and has me itching to read as many biographies as I can.
How much do I read? That, too, varies. It’s the first thing I do each morning and the last thing I do each night—at least an hour most days, not counting the news stories and blog posts I read for my work as an editor.
What do I read? Almost anything these days—and as I sit in my reading chair looking at the wall of books in front of me, I wish I could figure out how to read several at once, like one of those split-screen televisions that lets you watch more than one sporting event at the same time.
So many words just waiting to touch and to teach …
A book beckons.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012