Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Slice #13- Thirteen things about me as a reader

It seems like people are doing a lot of lists as slices this year. Every time I read one, I think, "I should try that some day." Most people do them in relation to the calendar number and suddenly, it occurred to me that if I didn't do one soon, I'd be having to write a 28 item list! I decided to try this one after I read fellow Coloradan Tamara Jaimes' Eleven Things About Me as a Reader. (Tamara is a terrific writer, by the way, and if you haven't read her blog, you should definitely check it out).

1. I was one of those kids who went to school knowing how to read. Actually, I have been a reader since I was a very little girl. The first book I remember reading  was HOP ON POP. I vividly remember the last page- there is a yellow circle with red words. The words are all pushed together and I remember finding the individual words within that huge block of red letters. I haven't stopped since. I will not, however, tell the story about getting kicked out of second grade reading group because I told the teacher I was not interested in learning about short e.

2. I come from a long line of readers. My grandmother was the head librarian at a branch in the Chicago Public Libraries. My mom went to bed with a book every single night. Four years ago, she had brain surgery and has some trouble with her eyes, but she still reads two or three books a week.  My father read slowly, and said he wasn't a reader, but he always had a book going. When I was in college and a young adult, he and I read John Grisham together.

3. As a kid, I loved series books- The Borrowers; Betsy, Tacy, Tib; Miss Piggle Wiggle, Nancy Drew. My all-time favorite was the Little House series. My grandmother gave me the series, one at a time, for every Christmas and birthday for about three years. I still have my Little House books.  Somewhere, I saw someone sign the front of a book, so I wrote a note to myself in one of the first ones My grandmother saw it, and she started signing them for me after that.

4. As a reader, I loved, loved, loved riding my bike to the bookmobile. I still remember the sweet, slightly flowery smell of Mrs. Holly's perfume. After the library, we would always go to the drugstore for penny candy. That was my sisters' favorite part, but I couldn't wait to get home and start reading my newest treasures.

5. My sons are not readers. I adopted them when they were seven and nine. I read to them every single night, and we had family reading time where everyone had a book or magazine, until they were in high school. I still leave things laying around for them to read. Despite all of this, they do not like to read, almost never pick up a book or magazine, and it breaks my heart.

6. I have been in the same adult book club for about 25 years. There are six of us. We used to meet consistently every single month. Now it's more like every six or eight weeks, which makes me a little sad, because those are some of my best friends, and I enjoy being with them. Right now we are reading The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe. We are going to see Helen Thorpe next Monday.

7. I don't like fantasy. At all. Not dystopian literature. Not science fiction. Not even talking animals. OK, an occasional talking animal, but not many. I have never made it through the Harry Potter books, although I did see most of the movies.

8. Right now, I read mostly YA. That's because I am teaching a seventh grade reading class and I feel like I always need to be ready to recommend a book to a kid. Yesterday I finished Sunny, the newest book in the Jason Reynolds' Track series. I liked it,  but I think Ghost is still my favorite. I'm currently reading Takedown by Laura Shovan, about a girl that wants to be on a boys' wrestling team.

9. Even though I loved series books as a kid, I don't read very many now. I do, however, go on an occasional author binge, usually with children's books or YA. In the last year, I have read almost all of Jason Reynolds books. I buy anything Barbara O'Connor writes (How to Steal a Dog is my favorite). Recently, I've been reading a lot of Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire).  Next up is Ruta Sepetys. I heard her talk at a luncheon and she was fabulous!

10. I love narrative nonfiction. Last year, my book club read Boys in the Boat, about a rowing team from the University of Washington. I loved it. Everyone else thought it was really long! I also love historical fiction. World War II seems to be the period I gravitate toward most. My favorite book in the last two years is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

11. I've recently become a fan of audiobooks. I almost always keep one in the car. Audiobooks keep me sane in Denver traffic. They also are a good companion when I'm driving back and forth to Colorado Springs every weekend. I haven't had time to go to the library the last couple of weekends, so I don't have one right now. I really needed one last weekend, when I drove back and forth to Colorado Springs twice.

12. I love independent bookstores. I live in Denver, the home of Tattered Cover, and there's nothing I like better than spending an afternoon drinking coffee and reading. Their oatmeal cookies are also really yummy, but please don't tell my Weight Watcher leader I said that!)

13. I also love the public library. I had the same card for 25 years. Every time I would get it out, the librarians would ask me if I wanted to replace it. Even so, I hung onto it until it finally cracked in half from old age. The Denver Public Library is amazing, and I go pretty much every other Saturday. I also go there to grade papers-- it's just noisy enough to focus.


Tamara said...

I couldn’t wait to open your post, because I know what an avid reader you are and I knew I would find jewels! I was shocked and honored to see my name there. Thank you.

It was as satisfying as I expected learning 13 things about you as a reader. What a lucky little girl you were to come from a long line of readers! Of course your grandmother was the head librarian, that explains so much! And I’m in awe that your mother still reads 2-3 books a week. I hope to be like that.

Our book clubs have read some of the same titles and are of a similar age. I don’t know what I would do without them. I could go on and on; I loved every detail.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

You know how very fond I am of a list! Maybe lists will be my theme next year and I'll write 31 of them! (That might cure me of my love!) I so loved learning more about you as a reader, and of course I connected to so very many of these. I still have the set of Little House books my grandmother gave me. I wanted to move into On the Banks of Plum Creek when I was a child. I think the reason I moved to South Dakota might just be the sign I saw when I first entered the state driving west cross country: DeSmet, Home of Little Town on the Prairie. It's not Laura's prairie, but I do get to drive across the prairie to work every single day. (Have you reread the books as an adult? It's no longer possible for me to enjoy them because of the racism. But she really did write so evocatively.) I love The Tattered Cover and also love, love, love the downtown branch of the Denver Public Library. When my mother lived in Denver, I used her library card to check out books to take to South Dakota and read! My son doesn't read either, despite the years and years of read-alouds, which finally stopped at his request a few months ago. He has been listening to the Harry Potter books on audio lately. So maybe there's a future for him as an audiobook listener?

elsie said...

What a rich reading life you have! Your book club is amazing to be together so long. I loved Ruta Sepety's book Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea. Since you like history, you will like them. What a treat to get to hear the author next Monday. I hope that will become a slice this month. Happy reading!

Ramona said...

Loved this glimpse into your reading life. Have you read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah? It's historical fiction also. I smiled at #1! Grandson Jack and I have read Hop on Pop several times today. Those seventh grade readers . . . have you read Dan Gemeinhart's Some Kind of Courage and The Honest Truth? I love book clubs, The Tattered Cover, and public libraries. I think we could be good friends in real life (as well as blogging friends), Carol.

Unknown said...

I read How to Steal a Dog to my 3rd graders last year, during a unit on homelessness. We loved it! I enjoyed this post. Then I realized that I commented on your Hamilton post yesterday, and you commented on mine today. I wrote that someday in the distant future I wold see it, and then the opportunity popped up today. Serendipity?

Cathy said...

Carol, I enjoyed reading about you as a reader. It's interesting to think that you have always identified as a reader. For me, I think reading has been a journey with its peaks and valleys. Now I seem to be walking a steady path. Your post certainly had me thinking back to the books I remember, the places that have helped define my reading, and the people that have put books in my hands. I may have to give this a try one day.

P.S. I wasn't surprised to hear about your love for narrative nonfiction, it is likely some of the reason you are so able to weave wonderful stories of life here on your blog.