|photo by Stuart Miles|
For many years my mom and dad used to read to me nearly every night before bed. Sometimes they’d read out loud, sometimes I’d tell the story based on the pictures, and sometimes we’d listen to a tape with a narrator reading the story. Because of my parents’ encouragement, I began reading at a young age and I loved it. Some of my early favorites were Bedtime for Francis, The Black Cauldron, and The Elephant's Child.
Reading in High School
Although I loved to read, my English literature classes in high school and college were largely uninspiring. I read books of my choice constantly, one after another, but often skimmed or skipped texts assigned for class. Some texts I specifically remember skimming and/or not finishing were: Great Expectations, The Scarlet Letter, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and the Heart of Darkness. I made successful attempts at reading some of these books outside of the classroom and enjoyed them.The question-and-answer format of my English classes made the books seem dull. I didn’t want to look for symbolism and metaphors. I just wanted to read the books to enjoy the characters and their situations. Analyzing the books to death stripped them of their fun.
Favorite Books as an Adolescent
Some books I enjoyed reading on my own in high school were: To Kill a Mockingbird, Atlas Shrugged, She’s Come Undone, and books by John Irving. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, books about women’s lives, especially female coming-of-age stories. I rarely read books from the “Young Adult” section of the bookstore because my mom said they were below my reading level and encouraged me to read adult books. I appreciated her high expectations and encouragement.