On Books


I love to read.  I always have.  When I was a kid, every other Saturday we went into "town" to buy groceries.  Before the grocery shopping, though, was the lunch buffet at Pizza Inn and then a trip to the used book store.  That used book store . . . that's the real reason I went every Saturday.

I love used book stores.  I love when you find a forgotten treasure with a 99 cent sticker on it.  I love the musty smell of old books.  I love that, unlike Barnes & Noble or Borders, if you walk into a used book store every other person in there is really loves books. 

Back on those grocery shopping Saturdays, I would gladly pick up used copies of Sweet Valley and Baby-sitters Club books.  Or maybe something by Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary.  (And, inevitibly, my dad would always get irritated with me because I'd have at least one of my new books finished by bedtime).  I never was much of one for the classics.  I even had someone else take my Accellerated Reader test for The Scarlett Letter in high school because I just couldn't make my way through all the old fashioned jargon.  Especially when there was something shiny and pink-covered and, well, modern waiting for me to read.

I'm still like that today.  Classics?  Meh.

I read a list a week or so ago - I think it was on CafeMom's The Stir blog - about books everyone should read before they finish high school.  I think I had read three.  And two of those were Mark Twain novels.  They were mostly things of the Wurthering Heights nature.  No thanks.  No thankyouverymuch.

(Sidenote: I also took issue with the author of this particular list when she stated that she had all her old teen books to hand down to her daughter -- and said books were in mint condition.  THAT IS NOT A LOVED BOOK!  A loved book is never in mint condition!  A loved book is worn and tattered and has been read so many times that pages are beginning to fall out because the spine is so worn.  My copy of Judy Blume's Summer Sisters (read at least twice a year)?  The prologue is no longer in the book.  The front cover is barely hanging on.  Why?  Because it's been read - AND LOVED - so many times).

My personal list of things every child should read before they graduate from high school is much less The Great Gatsby and much more Where the Red Fern Grows.  And Tuck Everlasting.  The Outsiders.  Summer of my German Solider and Number the Stars and Black Boy.  And I firmly - FIRMLY - believe that every girl should read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret sometime during her fourth grade year.

There is one classic - a classic that is considered a classic by people who go around classifying the classics (over use of the term 'classic' totes intended, FYI) - that I've wanted to read for a while.  One that I never read in high school or college and recently ordered from Amazon.*  It came in the mail the other day:

I'm a few chapters in and so far it's pretty decent.

It was also on my list of ten nine things to do before I turn 40.  Which means that as of 31.5 my list look something like this:

1) Do something charitable (more than just donating money)
2) See the Yankees play in the Bronx
3) Join a gym and take a class
4) Learn to sew
5) Take my kids to Disney
6) Take a photography class
7) Read To Kill a Mockingbird
8) Eat lobster
9) Renew my wedding vows

Nine things.  I'll definitely knock out Mockingbird in my 31st year.  That'll leave me a year each to get the other eight done.  We'll see . . .

* After I purchased the book, Amazon sent me an email of recommendations based on my "recent purchase."  Among the titles were "Big White Panties" and "Douchebag Roulette."  I'm really hoping they were basing these recommendations on this summer's purchase of Chelsey Handler's My Horizontal Life.  Really, REALLY hoping.
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