My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘just read’

Why My Future Kiddos Will Be Able To Read Just ALL of the Things


One of my favorite memories growing up was when my grandma would take me to the local library. She’d arm me with a juice box, Goldfish crackers and my library card, and let me have free reign of the place, letting me wander and explore and get lost in the stacks (sometimes literally–my library was HUGE, yo!). My fascination and obsession with all things books started at a very young age–a lot of it I think came from my grandmother who could devour novels, going through them like the giant tub of Good & Plenty she kept on the table by her recliner. I was entranced by the endless possibilities books offered, the adventure and power and magic they held. To this day, anytime I walk into a bookstore or library, it’s so overwhelming that I don’t even know where to begin–there’s just all of the options! Often times I would (and still do) just choose a book at complete random and go from there.

I truly believe that discovery through reading is a universal experience, one that enables readers to imagine other incredible lives and worlds. To me, is just doesn’t get much better than that.

For this reason, I won’t place any restrictions on my personal library when my future kiddos learn how to read. I’ve already decided that I’m going to introduce them to Harry Potter in utero because duh. With nearly 1,000 physical books and e-books, my tiny apartment is almost most definitely groaning under the weight of all those words. Poetry, fiction, history, biography, drama, anthologies: they’re all there on my bookshelves (and floors and couches and nightstands and kitchen tables). All of them, each and every last one tell stories that are uplifting, disturbing, real, inspiring, thought-provoking and hilarious. They reveal the kaleidoscopic diversity of the human experience. And they will show my future sons and/or daughters that the world is an infinitely fascinating and amazing place.

But, some might say, you’d let your 8-year old read Lolita? You’d let your 10-year old get his Scarlet Letter on? Or anything by Stephen King???

Yes. Yes I would. You want to know why? Because I believe that you connect with books that you’re meant to connect with at a specific time. Reading Thomas Hardy, for instance, informed me how to read Salinger and Faulkner, Morrison and Mann. I had my nose in a book pretty much on the regular. My friends and family still make fun of me for having paperbacks and hardcovers wherever I go; stacks in the living room, bathroom, bedroom nightstand, car, desk at work and of course my purse. Have books, will travel, as they say. Or maybe it’s just me who say’s it?

My mom and dad who never were big readers, let me read until my little heart was content, whatever and whenever and wherever. (I still remember the time they caught me reading a Babysitter’s Club book in church—that was maybe the only time they told me to step away from the book.) My mom listened over Corn Flakes during breakfast and on the ride home from school as I told her about the books I was reading, and while she lifted her eyebrows and asked questions, she never, ever told me I wasn’t allowed to read anything. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

This smorgasbord of genres and time-periods and styles ultimately enriched my understanding of the world and my place in it. I realized through my reading that “the good ‘ol days” never really existed, that human nature never really changes, and that I must keep an open mind if I wanted to keep learning.

Growing up, my family never really traveled much. My dad was in the military so both my sister and I have seen almost all 50 states, but never have I been outside of the country. I used books to explore these places I couldn’t otherwise access, bouncing between the wild jungles of Asia, the savannas of Africa and the beautiful and romantic cities of Paris and Rome. I built up a list of literary pilgrimages I wanted to make when I was older, and while I still haven’t actually made it to any of those places, yet, I have every intention on doing so.

As a librarian, I’ve seen the excited looks and wide smiles on the faces of kids who pick up a book they love, or one that they are discovering for the first time. I’ve also seen the disappointment when their parents tell them that they can’t check out that copy of “Captain Underpants” or “Diaries of a Wimpy Kid.” It’s every parent’s prerogative to raise their children in anyway they see fit, and I’m in no way trying to negate that, but I urge them to rethink the censorship they put on books.

I think the key to having your kids’ reading be free-wheelin’ and unfettered but also informative is your ability to answer their questions and listen to them figure out what they’ve read. You won’t need to schedule specific times to have “Big Talks” about various issues because those issues will naturally come up in their reading. They’ll read Ralph Ellison and ask you about racism and injustice and identity; they’ll read Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ask about feminism and equality; they’ll read Dickens and Orwell and ask about poverty and surveillance and war. They’ll read histories of World War II and plays about apartheid and poems about faith or sexuality or despair. They’ll read graphic novels and comic books and screenplays. You’ll realize that answering their questions is a full-time job and that your books are making them smart and thoughtful and pretty soon they’ll be outmaneuvering you in debates about when and for how long they can take the car and whether or not they can get a tattoo or dye their hair blue. But you’ll be damn proud of them.

I have always had strong thoughts about censorship and book-banning. To put it blatantly, I think it’s a bunch of bullfunky. Kids are more mindful than they’re sometimes given credit for, and they should be allowed to browse and sample and explore. Who cares if they don’t understand a book they read in 6th grade? They’ll read it again later, maybe, and then it’ll all start to make sense, maybe. One of my favorite things about books is that you can read the same one every three years and each time your life experiences will make you see it differently.

So, to my fellow parents or soon-to-be parents, unleash your kids in personal or public library or bookstore and watch the magic happen!


8 signs you may suffer from low SHELF-esteem


One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is take my current book (s) du jour and hit up a local coffee shop, enjoying my latest page-turner with a cup (or three) of freshly brewed java and bagel doughnut anything made with just all of the gluten. If I’m lucky (and the weather is cooperating with me), I’ll grab a table outside and hunker down for a few glorious hours.

On one such morning a few weeks ago, I was approached by a man rocking a pretty spectacular fedora who wanted to know what I was reading. Now to preface this, I’d like to point out that I am an equal opportunity reader. I like to dabble in all genres by all kinds of authors. I’m talking mysteries and young adult to non-fiction and the literary classics. My book rolodex runs the gamut! On this particular day, I just happened to be indulging in some chick-lit (if you haven’t read One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, you need to! Like, yesterday). When I told this man what my book of choice was, he kind of gave me a kind of snooty, hoity toity sneer, his nose turned up like he just got a serious whiff of sweaty gym socks.

“Hmph,” he said as he turned back to his table. “I’m more of a literary purist.” That’s when I noticed the book he happened to have in his hands: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. I’m not gonna lie; I felt my face turning a bright shade of red, slightly embarrassed by my apparent lack of bookish intelligence. Should I be dabbling in these philosophical, historical, meaningful [and ridiculously hard to understand] books too? Am I wasting my time and energy (and ridiculously high level of brain power) on mere chick-lit?

Now, I’m not a psychologist (actually, I’m a librarian which makes things even more confusing. I mean, I am in the business of books after all). I have however been a teenage girl (’nuff said) and definitely noticed that since my crimped hair and Hanson-listening days of middle school, those who scream the loudest about how great they are, are usually the people who are just compensating for actual lack.

This can be applied to many areas of life; school, work, the sports teams you cheer for, and even the kind of beer you drink. The more self-conscious you feel about a certain aspect of your life, the more likely you are to overcompensate for those things/skills/abilities/talents that you think you lack. What I’ve recently discovered is that is also can be apparent in the world of books. Generally speaking, those who are worried about their intelligence level (or lack there of) feel the need to prove their smarts in ways that actual intellects don’t. They suffer from very low shelf-esteem.

Mr. Fedora, I’m talking to you buddy.

Signs that you too may be suffering from a bad case of low shelf-esteem include:

1.You mention what you are reading, but make sure to tell people who your REAL favorite author is (typically someone who’s tres “important”).

“I mean, yeah I’m reading this now, but I usually stick to anything and everything written by Hemingway.

*J.K. Rowling is my girl!

2. You make excuses for what you are reading.

“Oh this thing? Yeah, I only started reading it because…my dog ate my copy of War & Peace.”

*Definitely reading The DaVinci Code, again, because so good, right?!

3. You don’t tell your friends what you’re reading, because you’re intimidated that they read “more important” things than you.

“I’m uhh, well I, it’s actually…but enough about me. What are you reading?”

*Twilight, okay?! I’m reading Twilight!!

4. You nod along when people talk intelligently about dead Russian white guys that you don’t really know anything about…instead of being honest about not knowing.

“Oh yeah. He was the one who wrote that book about that thing that happened a long time ago in that one place, right? Sooooo good!”

*Yep. Nope. I have no idea who you are talking about.

5. You have a fake favorite book for when people ask you what your favorite book is.

“My fave book is totally The Sound and The Fury by Faulkner. Obviously.


6. You keep something fancy on the coffeetable for guests to notice.

“Oh these old things? Yeah they’re just the complete set of Tolstoy’s greatest works. The printed originals. In three different translations. No biggy.”

*Copies I got at a garage sale for $.50 each because they looked neat.

7. You won’t get rid of books you hated because you want people who come over to see that you’ve read them.

“Wow! Of Mice and Men? Crime and Punishment? Anna Karenina? Impressive shelves, girl!”

*Yeahhhh….about those….not a big fan. In fact, I couldn’t finish any of them because I kept falling asleep.

8. You make blanket statements about which kinds of books are bad without actually reading them.

“Pshhh. Comic books are soooo 2014.”

*Comic books are sooo 2015 and I can marry Thor please and thank you.

As I mentioned before, everyone has their reading preferences. I am not ashamed to admit that I love a good tear-jerker, mushy-gushy love story. I think I’ve single-handedly supported the stock in Kleenex for the number of Nicholas Sparks’ books that adorn my bookshelf alone. There’s nothing wrong with reading what you want to read. Ever.

Just because you choose not to read the difficult, heady or highbrow novels all the time (or any time) doesn’t mean that you are in any way less smart or intelligent. In fact, it probably means that you are confident enough in your self shelf to read what you want, to not be intimidated in any way by judgy McJudgsters who feel your reading is not up to snuff. Be proud of what you read and own your interests no matter what anyone says.

So to Mr. Fedora, I would just like to say, “Yes I am reading the chickiest of chick-lit books and yes it is amazing (and yes I could use a tissue, thank you). So you can just take your Proust and shove it (but not really because that actually is an incredible book and can I borrow it when you’re done?)

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