Reading is fundamental

In class today, some chick made a comment that to have a bright and motivated child, you have to sit down and read to them. I immediately thought, “well, nobody sat down and read to me and I’m remarkably bright!” I think I’m sort of an anomaly though. While no one really sat down and read books with me, reading was always encouraged by example in my household.

I initially grew up with my grandmother and she loved to read romance novels. She had a bookcase full of paperback novels. Covers with long-haired men clutching porcelain-skinned women with heaving breasts in a castle. In elementary school I grabbed those books and would read them, devour them. Sure, it was fun because they had “grown-up” things inside but nothing too dirty. You kind of need some foundational knowledge of sex to begin with if you’re going to decipher lines like, “then he un-sheathed his powerful sword and impaled the center of my pulsing love.” Um, okay. If you’re not familiar with romance novels, you might not realize that they’re more than trashy books for housewives. The authors of those books research them like crazy. I learned so much about history since many of the books are set long, long ago.

The book fair at school was so much fun. Where else could you buy Judy Blume books, unicorn folders and kitten bookmarks? I loved getting those little paper leaflets a week before the book fair advertising what would be for sale. I’d take it home and circle what I wanted, then show it to my grandma who would give me the money. Then on the day of the book fair, our teachers would take us to the library where cases of books would be opened to display all the wares. Maybe I just liked buying something or maybe I just liked kitten bookmarks. I don’t know.

Then there was this bookstore called Bookworms. Sometimes my aunt, my grandpa and I would all go there. It was a place where you could take your used books and get credit to buy other books. There were tall shelves filled with paper- and hard-backed books. The best thing was they had two aisles dedicated to teen books. Man, I would spend time going all through the shelves picking up 4 or 5 books per visit. My favorite area was the Babysitters Club area. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’ve read every single Baby Sitter’s Club book written up until 1996 (they stopped being published in 2000), including the Super Specials. I loved Ann M. Martin and her tales of the diverse babysitters in fictional Stonybrook, CT. I wrote Ms. Martin who wrote back telling me how to start my own club. I failed at that, by the way. There are no babysitter’s clubs in the hood. :(

While no one really told me it was important to read or sat down and read to me, reading was a valuable past time. Even my mom, who is anything but a model parental example, likes to sit still and read. I think that contributed to my love for books and for my thirst for knowledge. I like historical fiction, Asian fiction and books dealing with the immigrant experience. When I like someone, I usually buy them a book. Call me corny, but I think it’s romantic to lay in bed with someone and you both read quietly to yourselves. Nowadays, I have no time to read anything besides law books, cases and depositions. I think that will be one of the best things after the Bar – getting back to books.

I think in the future (when I’m out from under some of this education debt) I’d like to support public libraries. Become a patron of sorts. I’m kind of afraid for the future of institutions like libraries and I think they’re really important. Perhaps libraries need to do more to fit into today’s world and appeal to today’s youth but they ought not become relics. I still have library cards from Chapel Hill, Wake County and Brooklyn libraries. I need to cop one for the Philadelphia Free Library, while I’m talking.

What do you like to read? Do you have time to do it anymore?


Filed under Routine Ramblings

10 responses to “Reading is fundamental

  1. OMG you’re so right about there being no babysitters clubs in the hood. I wanted to start one, too! Nobody can trust anybody with their kids these days…

    School really does kill any type of leisurely reading. I just graduated, and I’ve been able to catch up with Oprah’s book club a little bit.

    I can like, only read self-help books, autobiographies, and nonfiction for some reason. I feel like an outsider with everyone and their Harry Potter and stuff. I just can’t do fiction at all for some reason. Yet, I can get thoroughly engrossed in a soap opera like Passions. I don’t make any kind of sense.

  2. I used to read a lot when I was younger.
    Especially if I had access to a set of encyclopedias…
    How stuff works and sciencey books…
    Gray’s Anatomy. (Not the TV show.)

    Always trying to disassemble something…

    Then I turned dumb and now I spend too little time reading books and more reading articles and blogs.


  3. My Aunt Katherine used to have a set of encyclopedias. Man, pre-innanet, I was always cracking open a volume and just reading the different entries.
    I think I’ll get some for my kids and make ’em do shit like that. Write mini reports or something.

  4. BTW, that wasn’t a swipe at blogs.
    It was at my current preference for short bursts of info instead of prolonged reading.

    And yo… I saw a whole set of encyclopedias in the recycling container behind the police station some years back.

    I almost shed a tear… then I remembered the innernetz and tabbed browsing.

    I kinda prefer digital over deforestation for books people might not read anyway.

  5. KMZ

    As a kid I read Sweet Valley High books. I was a huge fan.

    Then I got hooked on John Grisham novels (I’ve read them all)

    After that I became a huge James Patterson fan. You should check out his Alex Cross series. Two of the books (Along Came A Spider & Kiss The Girls) became feature length films starring Morgan Freeman.

    I confess I am a HUGE fan of the Harry Potter series. Like seriously, I could quote those books VERBATIM. It never too me more than a few hours to read even the longest book in that series. I got interested in fan fiction, which I wanted to pursue for a while, but decided against in the end.

  6. KMZ

    Unfortunately I don’t have the time to read as much as I’d like. My to-read list is getting longer and longer. However, when the big book fairs come, I usually pick up a few books, and if I’m going to travel somewhere, I pick up some books to take along for the ride.

  7. Holly GoLightly

    Man Sweet Valley High was my series as a child!! I love to read! Somehow I make time for it!! No particular genre just as long as it’s a page turner!!

  8. Shelly

    book fair! babysitter’s club! the memories!

    i don’t have time to read that much anymore but this summer i tried to go back and read books that were assigned to me during college that i neglected to read. i only read one, but it was great.

  9. chile i fav babysitter’s club book was when they went to cali…don’t you know that everytime i go to cali i think about that book…and get scared that i am going to have jetlag like mallory did

    or when they went to new york…i really learned a lot from that series…and i too read all those books until about ’95

    aww the memories

  10. dejean

    I still have all my Babysitter’s Club and SweetValley High books!!! I love to read. I can read anything. I just finished the Tipping Point and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I also recently read A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown…. Great Book. I am also a magazine addict… I get about 30 in the mail a month….

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