I was going to follow up last week’s “work and vocation” post with a “work and money” post … because I feel like I still have some things to say about work and class-based experiences of work and vocation, and what it means to have income and economic agency … but all that’s going to take a bit more brainpower to formulate than I have at the minute. So we’re taking a time-out this week with a lighter topic: reading!
It probably hasn’t escaped you that I’m fond of reading. What with being a librarian and all. Reading, even more than writing, is probably in my blood given that I’m the daughter of two English majors and grew up in a home that — I’m speaking literally here — had books in every room.
|books read so far in 2011 (goodreads)|
This year, for example — as evidenced by my GoodReads list, at right — I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction in the areas of history, sexuality, and politics (big surprise, I know). The two years before that, unsurprisingly, were even heavier in history given all the background research I was doing for my thesis. Still, I read lots more non-fiction these days, even sans graduate school, then I did as a child and into my teens. Oh, I still read fiction — mostly genre stuff (fantasy, science fiction, mystery) and fan fiction, truth be told — but to be honest? I never made the leap from middle grade/young adult fiction to adult literature.
Like, okay, yes. I can get sucked into a modern novel but it usually has to have some sort of supernatural or historical element — if you can squeeze in some of both, I’m totally there. Think Camille DeAngelis’ Mary, Modern, a modern-day Frankenstein in which a geneticist clones her grandmother in the basement and it all goes wrong. Or Martin Cruz Smith’s Rose, a historical novel/mystery/romance in which an American explorer down on his luck gets hired to investigate the disappearance of a vicar in Wigan, Yorkshire. Or Audrey Niffenegger’s now-famous The Time-Traveler’s Wife, which not only involved time travel by the landscape of my childhood — how could I escape getting sucked into that? And well-written sexytimes will never go amiss.
I’d say, on the whole, that these recent titles are a fairly accurate representation of the type books that I read these days:
|last fifteen titles read (goodreads)|
I actually learned to read “late,” according to a lot of school-based expectations. I was about six years old, between six and seven. I wasn’t much into practicing at reading (practicing at anything, really) and found
those beginning-to-read books mostly boring, unless I happened to like them for the story rather than the repetitive words. I must have been rehearsing on some level, though, because what I remember is the day I pulled The Best Christmas Pageant Ever off the shelf and discovered the words on the page made sense.
That obviously wasn’t the beginning of my love affair with reading, given that my parents read to us regularly and continued to do so long after we could read for ourselves — family bedtime stories didn’t stop until I was into my teens. But being able to read on my own meant more books. I used to go to the library, check out a stack of novels — I’m talking 10, 12, 15 books at a time — and read through them in an afternoon.
Ah, happy memories.
I have to say being able to read like that was a big incentive not to go to school, like, ever. Because going to school would have meant not being able to spend the day reading. And seriously: who would want that sort of fate!
Of course, as a college student and graduate student reading (and writing) were a major part of what I did, what I was expected to do, in school — so the conflict sort of faded away. Though there were always types of reading that waxed and waned during term-time. New fiction, for example, rarely got a look-in while my stand-by favorites became battered from the constant emergency comfort reading.
I was introduced to the world of advance review copies as a teenager when I worked at a children’s bookstore. We used to circulate the ARCs among the staff and eventually got to take them home once they’d outlived their usefulness. Again at Barnes & Noble free pre-pub copies were a regular and delicious perk of being on staff. I love the element of surprise in advance review copies: they’re unknown quantities, particularly if by unknown authors, which hold the promise of being brilliant gems as well as dreadful mistakes.
One of the best things about being a librarian (and, really, a blogger) is that they give you books for free. In the past five years I’ve been offered advance copies and electronic galleys of really interesting stuff that I might otherwise never have read — in part because I offer to review stuff on the internets, and in part because I am a librarian which is a professional credential that opens doors.
It’s like crack for bibliophiles: come work for us and we will give you free books to read!
Um, sure! Where do I sign!
|Georges Island (Boston Harbor), 2007|