Saturday, April 11, 2009

... and then I turned 12

When i was 7, I couldn't get enough of Clifford the Big Red Dog, the Encyclopedia Brown series, Amelia Bedelia, The Little's Take a Trip and Harold the Purple Crayon.

When I was 9, I moved on to Charlotte's Web, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Harriet the Spy, The Great Brain and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

By 11, I was reading Of Mice and Men, Little Women, Gone With The Wind, Mystery at Thunderbolt House and Mrs. Mike.

And then I turned 12.

Something happened. It was called Assigned Reading.

I had to read whatever I was given within a short period of time and then write about it.

Or worse!

Stand in front of the classroom and speak about it publicly.. making sure I gave the entire class the proper eye contact and project my voice across the classroom.

One of the books I had to read was The Red Badge of Courage. In my assignment, I had to point out the emotional symbols in the book. Such as ... Henry sees a lot of blood (emotional symbol) and death (emotional symbol) and this causes him to run away from battle (emotional response) which makes him feel ashamed (another emotion).

Something shifted inside me during that time, and, no matter how hard I tried to read, the words would just fall off the page and into my lap.

I suffered quietly.

I cheated my way through book assignments and public book reports from that day forward.

Sometimes, when I could, I falsified my own book report with make-believe characters and created summaries or stole them from short stories out of a magazine and lengthened them into any novel I wanted it to be.

Because in truth .. by then, the only things I read were the back of cereal boxes, Tigerbeat magazines and my mother's National Enquirers.

I envy those who join book clubs and those who spend their weekends by the pool reading their books expanding their minds by what they read.

I have read two books in the past three years or more. Fried Green Tomatoes and The Secret Life of Bees. Both books brought me so much joy. I remember how I felt between readings. I missed the characters and I looked forward to delving back in and reading. And I felt so sad when the book was over.

That's how all books should be.

Do you have a favorite book that I would perhaps enjoy reading? A book where the words stay in place and don't slip down the page and onto my lap? Summer is quickly approaching. I would so enjoy joining the others around the pool with a book in hand instead of my People magazine.

I'm interested in all types of books in all different categories. Or so, I would like to think that.

Just as long as there are easy-to-read short chapters with medium size text with lots of paragraphs just incase I wanted to stop reading between chapters, it would be a nice resting place.



Doodlestreet said...

That's a cute illo you did for your post with the letters falling off the page! Makes me want to go pour a bowl of alpabits!

violetismycolor said...

I love so many books. One of my favorites is Possession by A.S. Byatt. Passionate!

Autumn said...


I can so relate to this post of yours! (cute drawing, too). I nodded the entire time i was reading because I am not a reader, either! I love People mags as well and the only books I really enjoy reading are gossip books. You should try it. It is nearly the same as reading a People!

Try Barbara Walters: "Audition" or "Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time" by Valerie Bertinelli. Or .. as a blogger.. you may prefer Heather Armstrong's book ( titled: "It sucked and then I cried..."

Read the types of books you naturally enjoy. And don't feel bad if they're books from the 6th grade. If you enjoy them, that's what matters most.

Ken Harrison said...

Shawn... I, too, don't read for pleasure much anymore. Last year I read a paperback for the first time in YEARS while camping. I experienced that joy that I once knew (the same joy you had before your assigned reading.)

But then, it is difficult for me to find the time to read at home. I really should try harder, I guess. Sadly, I end up reading "geek" technical books rather than stories where I can escape and observe the story seemingly first hand. (sigh)

danny said...

Great post Shawn! I totally know what you mean by missing the characters when the book ends. I'm re-reading a book that I read about 15 years ago, something I've never done! If you like books that are character driven, try Watership Down, a favorite of mine. Or anything by Dean Koontz, a mystery/horror writer whose characters are so vivid! Happy reading!

Janet said...

Anything by Anne Tyler...(Dinner At the Homesick Restaurant...The Accidental Tourist...Ladder of Years... Breathing Lessons...)

Kate said...

OMG, Shawn. Having read 84 books last year I don't know how I would live w/o a book in my hand. Go to my blog and look at the list, now down at the bottom. I put 1-5 + marks after my readings. I finished BLUES LESSONS yesterday - a midwestern story of life in the 50's to 60's...good/easy/relationship focused. I really think you should tackle ROAD TO QUOZ by William Least Heat Moon. It's non-fiction. Takes you places in our country you wouldn't expect to go. Or, I can see you reading THE DAILY COYOTE, also NF. From last year - try THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE, about another side of WWII. Let me quit so you can pick up a book!

doodlegirl said...

Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions! I'm so excited! I will look at each book you all suggested. And choose one of them for my next book.

Kate, I'm so impressed that you have read 84 books in one year. That's like a book every 4 days! That's incredible! I can't even fathom that.

It's nice to hear from you, Ken!

Kate said...

Shawn, I also suggest you try TURTLE MOON by Alice Hoffman - she's magical. You'll see why I say that when you read her books. And, if you want to tackle a great children's book, try THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH - very whimsical and one of my all time faves from when I was studying children's lit in college.
BTW, my house is a mess, my yard needs work, my blog is unattended for days...the life of a book reader has its challenges.

Kate said...

Shawn: Just finished CHANGE OF HEART by Jodi Picoult and have started THE PACT by her. Look into her work! It's fabulous.

doodlegirl said...

OH Kate! I just adore you. WOW!!!! Thank you so much for all your wonderful suggestions... and someone like you who reads and completes a book every 3 or 4 days... well... I become quiet and listen to you.

(and.. because you sorta somewhat know me....)

TURTLE MOON, THE PANTOM TOLLBOOTH and CHANGE OF HEART have all piqued my curiosity.

You're wonderful! I'm gonna pick up a few books. I will post soon which books I am reading.

Thank you again. I so appreciate you. (hug)

Rayne said...

Oh, wow! I was such a reader when I was a child, too, and then assigned reading hit and I felt so trapped and then I realized that if I read them quickly and got the work stuff out of the way I could go back to reading what I wanted.
I am currently reading Dean Koontz' Frankenstein series. Can't remember the titles but there are only two and the library lady will know.
It's not scary, it's more like a crime/murder/mystery with a twist.
I am enjoying it.

Rayne said...

I just thought of another one. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. A wonderful character and a great story line with a touch of humor and a splash of scary.

Amy C said...

Oh I totally hear you, I get books out from the library and then take them back the next day because I couldn't get past the first 3 pages.
I loved Secret Life of Bees, I am pretty sure you would love:
Snow Flower & the Secret Fan by Lisa See (don't bother reading any of her others)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I hope you like them.
I love your sweet reading illustration with the words falling off the page, so beautiful.