Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Quote yourself word for word"

There is a blog I like, called Letters of Note. Subtitled "Correspondance deserving of a wider audience", it posts letters, notes, postcards and varied forms of messages that the author presumably finds to hold some small truths. Largely, I tend to agree with him, and have on occasion reposted some of the letters here.
Recently, a letter posted there by Chuck Jones got me thinking about reading. Jones writes: "Knowing how to read and not reading books is like owning skiis and not skiing, owning a board and never riding a wave, or, well, having your favorite sandwich in your hand and not eating it."
I have never quite understood people who do not read. Or rather, who never seem to read simply for the enjoyment, the sheer, simple pleasure I so clearly feel when I read. Presuming, of course that I am not reading post-structuralism.
I have known some of these people, and they scare me a bit. There is a chance that I am being elitist, and I suppose I'll run that risk, but I wonder at what these people do with their imagination. In his letter, Chuck say that reading "opens up the universe of humour, of adventure, of romance, of climbing the highest mountain, of diving in the deepest sea." And it does.
I grew up reading, the lucky accident of having a school teacher for a mother and an older sister, herself a voracious reader, who left behind her children's and young adult literature. Luckily, her tastes were not too overtly gendered, and I had both Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I still read, for pleasure, despite my studies, which have me reading (less for pleasure, although some academic writing is still pleasant to read) 10, maybe 12 hours some days.
Even so, I read for fun. Readers will know that lately I've been reading children's lit, but vintage Sci-Fi has figured big. Someday soon, I look forward to finishing Treasure Island.
More importantly, I have found people to share my love of reading with, something I think I had lost for a while. I have a friend who hands me his detective fiction, and another with whom I share a newly rediscovered love of poetry, and possibly Neil Gaiman. Maybe this person was behind the whole Peter Pan thing, earlier, as well. Quite inspirational, that one.
I want to be able to say that I can top Mr. Jones, and his letter on reading. I don't think I can. Small truths can be hard to find, and harder then to express. With any luck, and with the help my Muse, God willing I'll manage a few. In the interim, Gentle Reader, perhaps I'll leave you with Chuck's closing words:
"I dare you all, test your strength: Open a book."
I trust that you will.

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