Do you remember the book that made you a reader?

I may not remember the name of the book that made me a reader, but I remember the feeling of becoming a reader.

I may not remember the name of the book that made me a reader, but I remember the feeling of becoming a reader.The Center for Fiction has a lovely series called “The Book That Made Me a Reader.” It features acclaimed authors sharing their gateway books—the ones that inspired them to become readers. I love discovering what books moved authors as children and trying to find connections between that work and their work.

As for me, I can rattle off long lists of my childhood favorites, books I read and re-read so many times that their plots are more familiar to me than the events of my own life. But when it comes to the title of the first book that turned me into a reader, I find myself at a loss. I cannot remember the name of the book. What I remember is the moment reading became fluent for me, when the lines and squiggles lined up neatly on the page coalesced and bloomed into meaning, scenes, ideas. Continue reading “Do you remember the book that made you a reader?”

Do some books make better listens than reads?

Audiobooks: Station Eleven

My journey to embrace audiobooks has been a rousing success so far this year. Granted, we’re not quite three months in, but I’m hopeful.

I’ve been thinking about the degree to which this may be a case of necessity being the mother of invention: My committed desire to really, really find an audiobook I could stick with created the favorable conditions for that to happen. Continue reading “Do some books make better listens than reads?”

Why read children’s literature?

C. S. Lewis quote

A Traveller in TimeChildren’s literature holds a prominent place on my reading list. Seven of the 16 books I’ve read this year are classified children’s or young adult novels. That tally will increase when I finish my current read, Alison Uttley’s charming A Traveller in Time.

I’ve been thinking about what draws me to children’s literature because of a Guardian article I read, loved, and shared widely last year that came back into my life recently through Facebook memories. It was written by SF Said and is called “Children’s books are never just for children.” I agree! Obviously. Continue reading “Why read children’s literature?”

Book lovers’ 7 deadly sins … or not?

Anne Fadiman quote

For some book lovers, a list of major no-nos would go something like this:

  • Do not dog-ear a book’s pages.
  • Do not dribble coffee/tea/wine on your book.
  • Ditto foodstuffs.
  • Do not break a book’s spine.
  • Do not allow the dust jacket to be torn or otherwise defiled.
  • Do not deface the margins by scrawling your (likely inferior) thoughts.
  • Ditto underlining and highlighting.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: If you’re borrowing a book your generous friend (or library) has lent you, doing any of the above is rude. Yes, sometimes it’s fun to eat potato chips while reading, but not while reading someone else’s book.

Outside the context of a borrowed book, though, are these really so bad? I’m discomfited by the suggestion, for several reasons. Continue reading “Book lovers’ 7 deadly sins … or not?”

Do spoilers really spoil a reading experience?

Do spoilers ruin a reading experience or just change it? Does knowing what’s coming in a story put one off reading it?

Thinking about these questions reminds me of something one of my favorite professors once said. It was during a Jane Austen seminar, and we were discussing Austen’s endings. “Reading a Jane Austen novel is like listening to a Mozart sonata,” he said. “You know where it’s going. The fun is in getting there.” His obvious point was that knowing the outcome doesn’t spoil the experience of reading her.

On that note, let’s begin with… Continue reading “Do spoilers really spoil a reading experience?”