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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Escape with a good book

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

There are a lot of things in life I don't understand.

For instance, I don't understand how "Full House" stayed on the air as long as it did (seriously, those two guys who lived with the Tanners couldn't find their own houses for 10 years ... even after one of them got married and had kids?).

I don't understand the appeal of sushi (it's raw fish!). I don't understand football (why do you score points if you run with the ball or kick it through the goalposts, but not if you throw it over?).

But one thing I really can't understand is people who don't enjoy reading.

I know it's harder for some people than others, and maybe that's it in some cases. But for me, reading has always been a form of therapy.

I couldn't even tell you when I "learned" to read, really. My mom read to my twin sister and me all the time when we were kids. We were each allowed to pick a certain number of books that she would read to us before we went to sleep.

She would sit on the floor between our twin beds and read us Little Golden Books like "The Pokey Little Puppy" and stories by Dr. Seuss.

Two of my favorite childhood books were "Harry the Dirty Dog" and "Never Tease a Weasel."

As my mother read those books, my eyes would grow heavy. I would fall asleep smiling, with images of Sam I Am in my head.

Eventually, I had heard the stories so many times I could recite them from memory, and before long I was reading on my own. My grandmother gave me a book of fairy tales and stories for Christmas in 1976, and I discovered Uncle Remus ("The Wonderful Tar Baby" story became one of my favorites ... my mother would do different voices for all the characters, and when I had children of my own I read the story to them the same way).

Round about third grade, I graduated to Beverly Cleary books, becoming a huge Ramona Quimby fan. In middle school, I read all of Judy Blume's young adult books.

In high school, I took classes in American and British literature and read ... and loved ... such classics as "The Return of the Native," "The Scarlet Letter" and "Huckleberry Finn."

We were assigned "The Great Gatsby," and F. Scott Fitzgerald became my favorite author. I went to the library and checked out everything he'd written, all the novels and short stories, and devoured them all ("This Side of Paradise" is my favorite book of all time, and I still read it about once every other year).

I did a three-book comparison report on "Ordinary People," "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and "The Bell Jar," and they became three of my favorites.

My mom often said if she hadn't gotten me a library card, she would have gone broke buying me books.

I kept reading voraciously after high school and college, tackling "Anna Karenina" (which I read only to be able to say I had and ended up adoring), "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Lolita."

My daughter was always a big reader. When she was a freshman in high school, she was thumbing through my bookshelf.

"Is this scary?" she asked me, holding up Stephen King's "The Shining."

I kept my poker face.

"Not really," I said.

An hour later, I peeked in her room, where she was lying on her bed reading the book.

She peered over it.

"I am so mad at you right now," she said.

But she couldn't put it down, and now she's a huge Stephen King fan.

You have to get the kids reading somehow.

My son never really enjoyed reading, and I couldn't figure out how to get him engaged. He didn't like Dr. Seuss very much, and I couldn't keep him interested in fairy tales or other children's stories.

Turns out he liked non-fiction ... history and science.

If you think you don't like to read, maybe you just haven't found what you're really interested in yet.

Make it a New Year's resolution to find out. Go to the library and see if you can find something that really grabs you.

It's never too late to become a bookworm!

Jamie Barrand is the editor of the Banner Graphic. She can be reached at jbarrand@bannergraphic.com.