I think I was born an avid reader. I will read anything and everything: books, magazines, comic books, cookbooks, poetry, fiction, mysteries, nonfiction, cereal boxes… Whatever has words on it is fair game.
I love being able to lose myself in a book and enter a different world, or to read a poem that paints a vivid image or provokes a feeling, or to discover something about an intriguing person in their biography.
But for some (like me), sharing a love of reading with someone else makes it even more enjoyable. What fun to talk about a book you love with a friend, comparing your likes and dislikes, or to write a few words in a book blog and have a discussion there with people you don’t even know! And of course, nothing compares with listening to a favourite story read aloud.
My first memory of being read to was from our battered set of Encyclopedia Brittanica. It had a whole section on fairy tales and I particularly remember Rumpelstiltskin. I can still see the wonderful line drawings that accompanied that fantastic story, showing him stomping off into the forest, never to be heard from again! My husband and I used to read to each other sometimes, and later as a new mother, one of my greatest joys was reading to my young son. We read to him every day, any time of the day or evening, and of course at bedtime without fail. That time for the three of us was very precious. Nobody wanted the story to end!
More recently, we read aloud to my mother-in-law as she got to the point of not being able to read or do much for herself. Although she virtually stopped speaking, she enjoyed it when we read to her and would nod or smile to tell us to keep going. Sometimes I would knit and she would watch me as we listened together to a familiar tale. We couldn’t always tell whether she understood the story or simply liked listening to our voices, but that didn’t really matter. It was a cozy way of spending time with each other, connected somehow through the book we shared.
A more active reading experienced is achieved by participating in a book club. I joined the one at the local public library and it is phenomenal. Reading a book for a book club is a different experience from simply reading for your own pleasure. After the quiet, introspective endeavour of reading the book on your own, you now enter a more dynamic phase. At my book club, there is heated debate and argument, questioning of viewpoints, agreement about some things, and strong disagreement about others. It is a lively two hours of discussion, discovery, laughter, and robust opinions. Our bond is the love of reading, but we represent different ages and stages in life, various types of careers, and several cultures and countries. Each of us brings a unique perspective to the table and adds to the richness to be found in the book. At the end of the session, we sometimes realize that our viewpoint has altered somewhat. How gratifying to know that we are gaining something from these meetings, however intangible that may be.
There are so many casual, day-to-day ways of sharing a good read. My son and I like some of the same authors, and are hooked on a couple of mystery writers. It’s hard to wait till the other one is finished the book before making comments. We are dying to find out what the other thought about the implausible plot, or the interesting new character that was introduced. My sister and I talk about books often through email, and I sent her a special book for Christmas. We are going to read it at the same time so we can discuss it as we go along. And of course I chat about books with my friends all the time and we often exchange books. So many ways to enjoy reading and many memories associated with it.
One especially fond memory is of visiting my in-laws when our son was small. We would sit in the family room after supper, all reading, or doing crossword puzzles. It was very quiet, except for my mother-in-law’s desultory comments about newspaper articles, or our occasional (unnecessary) contribution to my father-in-law’s cryptic crossword. But often we would simply sit together, reading in companionable silence.
A bond is formed through reading, a relationship with the author, or a fellow reader, that is unique. The exchanging of ideas, in whatever format, creates connections. What greater benefit could there be than to connect with another person, in whatever way that takes place?
Thanks to S.T.E.L.L.A. for the opportunity to share my love of reading with others. I am on twitter @jaduperreault and write a book blog where I review fiction, a bit of nonfiction, and the occasional poetry collection: Bookdiscovery-jeanne.blogspot.com