As a teacher and an avid reader, I’m appalled by the number of people who don’t read consistently. I may set the bar of reading an inordinate amount of books very high, but I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t consider reading an essential part of their lives.
Perhaps it is because I am the great indoorswoman. When faced with the decision to climb a mountain or read, reading will always win. Go fishing? Well, can I read while I’m there? Definitely safer for the fish and more interesting for me. Now a book about fishing? That I could get into.
I’m somewhat of a linguist, and have always found words intoxicating. The origin of words is fascinating to me. How language has changed and evolved over the years is extraordinarily interesting to me. Obvious examples are gay=happy, which has become gay=homosexual in the current vernacular. Awesome means something that fills you with awe. But this is generally used now as something you really like. That movie may have been awesome, but it definitely did not fill me with awe.
One of my top books of all time is The Madman and the Professor: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. Just the title should explain why this is one of my favorite books.
But the real draw of reading for me? Escapism combined with adventure. I’m frequently a little sad when finishing a book. I feel like I know the characters and wonder what will happen next in their lives. I totally agree with this quote from the Holden Caulfield character in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
There is a reason why book series are so popular. And why some characters are famous. Hercule Poirot, Jane Eyre, Jack Reacher, Katness Everdeen, Harry Bosch, Hermione Granger and Ebenezer Scrooge, to name a few. Many people find them unique and compelling and can’t wait for what they will say and do next, either in the next in the series, or in the reader’s imagination.
Why is the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (usually referred to as the Game of Thrones books) so popular? Adventure. Sex. Love. Fantasy. Violence. Incest. Evil. Goodness. Death. Who isn’t drawn to those topics?
Historically, only the upper echelons of society were educated and well-read. It was frowned upon for women to read other than the society pages and recipes. But in today’s society, education is supposed to change all of that. It is the right of everyone to receive the education that carries the gift of literacy. That is the burden and challenge for teachers. To motivate children so that they are capable of reading, able and interested to read for pleasure, and have the gift of opening their minds to other thoughts, other cultures, other experiences.
To staunch the flow of the walking unread.