One of the simple truths that I know as an individual was that there was not that “one” book that made me into a reader, but essentially it was the freedom to choose that book. At different times in my life, different books made a distinct impression. From early childhood, I remember A Wrinkle in Time, Big Doc’s Girl, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Bronze Bow, The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
High school brought me face to face with the whole idea of “banned books” since the Catholic school had distinct ideas about the acceptability of content. I grew to love the freedom that my parents allowed me to choose to read what I wanted. I read The Catcher in the Rye, Crime and Punishment, Gone With the Wind, Lonesome Dove.
As a young woman and throughout the early years of my marriage and child-bearing, I often enjoyed an escapist novel like Taylor Caldwell, Thomas Costain, or Kathleen Woodiwiss would produce. During these years I much preferred a lengthy tome, something to really bury my head in. I read Ancient Evenings, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Tell No Man, Mists of Avalon.
Then I became interested in the bigger picture. I wondered about classicism, mysticism, philosophical and psychological isms and began a broader reading more akin to a college reader’s list. I explored many subjects and started a classical reading project, in which I challenged myself to read the 100 Best Novels Written in the 20th Century as chosen by the Modern Library Association. This project has been the single most driving force behind my recreational reading. You can read about my ongoing challenge on my blog The Reader- Rater. There are accumulating there short reviews of those novels which I have read.
Part of my commitment to librarianship is to literacy. It is to spread the joy of reading, of recreational, time-wasting reading. I know it has enriched my life beyond belief. I have found the common core of man, the universal truth (if only for an instant). I have felt the pain, the anguish, the disappointment, the misery, the mystery, and the exquisite joy of connection. In all its formats, reading is an asset to life. It is educational, entertaining, eye-opening, inciting, and peace building.