Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Reader By Any Other Name

One of the things I think I miss out on the most by not working in a public library, is seeing someone discover (or rediscover) their love of books.  It could be a child that you recommend just the right book for, a teen who you guided to a life-changing book, or an adult you encouraged at just the right time to take up a life of reading.  But, I have had the very great fortune of watching (if not encouraging a little) these sorts of "transformations" in my own family. 

(Part of) My Family of Readers

First is one of my sisters.  She's got three young kids and never really figured she had the time to pick up a book.  She also didn't know what exactly to choose.  Well, I just so happen to love recommending books and after handing her several of my own copies of books, I hoped she might find the time to enjoy them.  She did better than that: she devoured them!  Sometimes I can't keep the recommendations coming fast enough to satisfy her reading hunger.  Now her problem isn't finding the right book or enough time, it is being able to put the book down!  I love feeling like I get to share my own love of reading with people who matter the most to me.

The second person is my father.  For most of his life, my dad has been VERY busy.  He's been a professor and in administrative positions for a very long time (pretty much my whole life).  However, he retired about two years ago and left all of that behind.  Even then, he and my mom decided to spend two years doing missionary work for the Mormon church in the Czech Republic.  It was like going from one full-time job to another.  Now they are home and my dad has to find something else to occupy that extra time.  Enter books.  He's always loved to read, but never found the time.  Every week now, he is telling me about some new book he read that was so fascinating.  For Christmas, I got him Sir Edmund Hilary's autobiography of climbing Mount Everest (High Adventure).  He couldn't stop talking about it.  He's devoured probably as many books as I have so far this year.  But, he began to run low on choices (despite the fact that my parents own quite a lot of books).  And that is where I enter again. 

When my dad heard about the book Alive by Piers Paul Read from a PBS program, he really wanted to read it.  Since he knows I am a regular at the library, he asked me to get it for him.  But, I figured "give a man a book, you give him reading for a day, give a man a library card, you give him reading for a lifetime."  After some persuasion, I convinced him to come with us and get his own card.  I can't say he's a regular yet, but I think we've supplied that inner reader with enough material for a good long while.

In my pride, I guess, I used to think of myself as the family reader, an exclusive title.  After all, I am the family librarian - I often get asked to recommend books to members of my family (which also sort of makes up for my not working in a public library).  Now, I've stopped feeling so superior.  My mother is probably the one who instilled a love of literature in me.  I grew up seeing her with her nose in a book (when she found the time).  My father's love was simply dormant.  My oldest brother is always talking about an interesting book he read and though our tastes are quite different, I'll often pick up something on his recommendation (like this and this).  Several of my sisters have discovered a voracious reading bug that must be tempered with their duties as mothers.  I even have a few students at my school who will ask for recommendations when they see me with a novel in hand.  I guess instead of thinking that a reader must devote all their spare time to reading (and blogging about it), I've come to recognize different types of readers all around me.  And I welcome them into the circle. 

Have you noticed any readers around you that you hadn't seen before?

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  1. Fun stories. I like your saying, too. It's SO true. And I do like the satisfaction of handing someone a book that you know they'll love, and having them love it. :-)

  2. My sisters (I have three) seem to like reading a lot, but my brothers (and there's five of them) don't seem to read at all. My parents like reading, especially my dad, but my mom feels guilty if she reads too much, and then gives my dad a guilt trip if he does too. It makes me crazy.

  3. Melissa, it's something I hope to do more often in the future.

    Suey, my brother-in-law will occasionally do that when my sister reads "too much." It makes me a bit crazy too!


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