Thursday, January 1, 2009

Firsts and (Sometimes) Seconds

By Heather F.

I clearly remember the first book I ever really “read.” It was a nightly ritual for me. First bath, then the brushing of the teeth, tell everyone good night and hop into bed. I would pull the sheets up to my chin and wait. My grandmother would come in and sit beside me on the bed and I would rest my head on her soft, comfy arm as she read Curious George to me. She read it to me so many times that I finally memorized it and could read it to myself. That was the start of my lifelong obsession with reading.

The first books I read until they totally fell apart were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I read them over and over, delighted with the wagon trails, building of houses, Half-Pint and Alfonso. For the longest time I wished my grandmother knew how to make Snow Candy, that delightful sounding concoction of snow and maple syrup. I also wanted desperately to wear flowered gingham dresses.

How many readers have desperately wanted to travel to Narnia? I used to read the Chronicles of Narnia in my closet. That way I’d be ready to go. These were the first fantasy novels I became infatuated with and were another set of books I read until the pages started falling out. There was just something so magical about the idea of being swept away to another world, full of adventure, talking animals, and one powerful, scary, yet loveable lion. Thankfully I have a new, beautiful hardbound copy that I am just itching to crack open.

Now, as an adult, I am finding that there aren’t as many books I am willing to read over and over again. Sure, I find the time to read The Princess Bride about once a year, and of course there is Harry Potter and Twilight, but that’s about it. I have a shelf in my home dedicated to books I want to reread someday, if someday ever comes, but very few of them have actually been read more than once. I wonder what changed. Is it the guilt of knowing I have so many other books sitting on my shelves, woefully unread? Or is it harder to suspend belief and allow myself to sink into other worlds and characters, to become someone else and let the problems, fears, delights, and daily adventures go for a time? Or could it be that books don’t offer up something new every time I pick one up again? I don’t know, but I miss the days I could pick up an old, beloved and dog-eared friend and read with utter abandon.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

The Little House books are ones that I try to read once a year. It doesn't always happen, but at this point the pages are falling out of most of them because I've read them so often.