16 July 2010

The summer I learned to read...

That phrase makes one think of a young child pointing to and trying to sound out each word in a beginning reader book like P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go! or Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Or maybe that same child’s first summer reading program where for every book read, she earned another crescent-shaped sticker to add to the book worm’s body tracking the summer’s accomplishments. Yes, both of these scenarios mark my reading history.

I’ve never been a big reader. I managed to drag my limited attention span through whatever I was forced to read in school. Since then, I’ve probably read no more than a dozen fiction books since college. I’ve always admired people who read but just never got there myself. Oh, sure, I’ve pushed myself to read a few titles I promised others I’d read, but very seldom have I seen a novel I just HAD to read. Given my extensive collection of books, it’s easy to see I really enjoy non-fiction reading. Show me how to do something; tell me your life story; or give me reference material—that I love!

I am thinking more about writing these days. Something I discovered a dozen years ago is that I can write a very detailed description of something/someone, but have great difficulty getting that person or thing to advance down a story line. Hence, the reason for needing to read and see how other writers transform and transport their characters through time and space.

Last year, a dear friend gave me a paperback he’d wanted me to read for quite some time. Accepting the fact I didn’t enjoy reading (which I am sure was appalling to him), he thought I might enjoy the simple stories by Alexander McCall Smith beginning with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. A year, and his passing, later, I finally sat down with the intention to read and finish his gift. Tah dah! Done! I can do this!

Which title next? My friend, Naomi, a voracious reader, who has read the entire series, tells me this first book was her least favorite. Hmm. Well, that’s interesting. It only gets better from here? Intriguing. I perused the titles of the following volumes and needed to decide whether to read by preference in title interest or the order in which they were written. My logical left brain won out and we’re doing it chronologically.

My husband, Tom, used to have great difficulty remembering the names of people he met. I told him if he keeps telling himself he’s bad at remembering names, he’s self-fulfilling the prophecy and will never change. He’s reminded me of this as it applies to my reading.

“I am not a reader” is no longer my personal statement because THIS is the summer I learned to read.


  1. You go, girl! I'm so excited for you. I have had more trouble reading in the last four years than I've ever had in my life (meaning I've had some trouble, lol). But still, when someone asks me what I'm currently reading, I have to answer, "It depends on which room of the house I'm in". I so enjoy that Ladies Detective series...the Prince is slowly building a hard-back edition collection of them for me.

  2. That P.D.Eastman book you have posted here: My seester and I always loved this bit of the story: "Do you like my hat?" "No. I do not like that hat." Perhaps because we were being taught polite manners during the same era when we were reading this book, we always thought that was the best page in the book. We were just learning to edit our speech, and this guy just said what he wanted to say and drove blithely on his way. I think we were a bit jealous, lol.

  3. The outspoken librarian08 August, 2010 09:50

    I am so happy you led me to your blog. Perhaps this is the first step in your continuing your writing. You just needed a better nonfiction format! Of course I had to respond to this post.I grew up thinking, "I hate to read!". When I graduated from college I swore I would never open a book again. Who knew I would have ended up as a librarian of all things? The key was finding something I enjoyed instead of books someone else told me to read. Now I find myself looking for the recommendations of other folks who read for fun. I am still the slowest reader in the world. Now that you have learned to read, I will be looking for your favorite books. Do I see a Kindle in your future? On a personal note, Go Dog Go was my firstborn's favorite. How lovely.