Friday, September 12, 2008

Assuage Any Trouble

"I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage." — Charles De Secondat (1689-1755)

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love to read and those who don't. I don't remember learning how to read. In fact, I don't remember not knowing how to read. 

I do remember the feeling of power that reading gave me — the power to travel, to explore, to learn, to laugh, to escape. The power to be someone else. The power to imagine. It seems this essential skill has always been imbedded deep in my brain cells, due in no small part to my mother, the librarian, who read to us generously from our earliest days and gifted us with her own love of reading.

I have been a flashlight-under-the-covers reader for as long as I can remember, and I have only recently given myself permission to stop reading a book I don't like. Like my mom, I love reading to my kids. The big kids and I are slowly working our way through the final Harry Potter book. It has taken forever, not because we aren't enjoying it, but because it's hard to find time with teenagers and none of us is willing to let one of the other two get ahead in the story. I'm on my second time through the Rowling series, this time with the little boys, and we are nearly finished with book four. I love that this woman had kids waiting in line to buy her books.

I'm not a fast reader; I read one word at a time, which has limited the number of books I have been able to absorb, but greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the ones I have read. I was delighted this summer to discover that "close reading", the way I do it, is a virtue according to Francine Prose (isn't that a perfect name for a writer?) in her passionate exploration of words, sentences and paragraphs called Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them.  

Have you ever walked into the library or bookstore and been totally overwhelmed by the number of possibilities? If you're looking for some guidance, check out the 2008 edition of Field-Tested Books. This Chicago publication contains 143 short (300-500 word) reviews from more than 90 contributors. The question asked of each reviewer was how their perception of a book was affected by the place in which it was read (or vice versa). The online counterpart has even more (and longer) offerings. Let me know what you discover.

Given the surfeit of reading materials — more than 190,000 US book titles published each year, thousands of magazines and countless Web pages — I'd like to thank you for spending some of your reading time on my blog. 

I'm also excited to announce that I have been invited to be a contributing author on Chicago Moms Blog, a collaborative group of moms writing about their lives in Chicago. I will be submitting to this site twice a month and my first post, Lousy Lice, went up today. I look forward to your feedback. Check the sidebar for an updated list of where you can find my writing elsewhere on the Web.

Read — for pleasure, read to your kids, read to learn something new or just to escape. Read to assuage your troubles. And as always, I look forward to your comments — just click here.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful quote and very cute picture.

Dragana said...

you sound like my kind of blogger! i am also a chicago (north shore) mom who loves to read and talk about it, but even more to write about it since not that many people listen anymore to book talk. this should link to my blog, and if you scroll/click your way to the first two entries, you may find things in common... also, i checked out your chicago mom blog and liked it-- how did you get invited, and how can people contribute?
thanks much, and best regards

Dragana said...

not sure how to contact you...i am assuming you and kenn have this blog together, right? thanks for your comment! yep, i know of the OCWW but have not attended yet. i also belong to a critique group, but we call ourselves writing group (i.e. we are critiquing each other's work only).
i am writing literary short fiction and nonfiction and am working on a novel.

Susan Bearman said...

Dragana — you can reach me by clicking on email on my profile or by clicking here. This is my personal blog, but I also write the The Animal Store blog and that's why my comments were left under my husband's profile.

In addition to all kinds of business writing, I write personal essays, some fiction and am working on a manuscript for a middle-grade novel; I also have a couple of picture books making the publishing rounds. I hope you can make it to OCWW sometime. It's a great resource. — Susan