The Cool Kids

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Take a look, it's in a book...(this post is as long as a book)

I am and always have been a voracious reader. Borderline obsessed. Oh, tack it on to my other disorders...

I'm not sure when it began, but I vaguely remember my first grade teacher pulling a picture book out of my hand and reminding me that it was time for recess. I mustn't have heard her announce the precious elementary break time. I didn't see the children lining up in single file, ready to own the playground, toy by toy. We usually jumped over one another for the opportunity to grab the best jump rope or the bounciest rubber ball...

I don't remember the name of that picture book. Goodness, I don't remember the names of some of the books I read this past week. I do know however,  that one of the greatest gifts I've ever received was the ability to read.  I'm not talking about sounding out words phonetically. I'm not talking about speed reading. I disliked fewer things in school than being told to read something and answer the questions at the end.  Before I get screamed at by my fellow educators, understand that I get why some of those tasks are important. But they are for the most part, our  measuring needs as teachers. Whether or not I could read 116 words per minute in no way measured what I understood, interpreted or found applicable from a reading passage.

What I'm talking about is the enjoyment of reading. Reading from choice or interest rather than assignment. I can teach almost anyone to read. It's my specialty. But I can not teach anyone to love reading. That has to come in their own time, in their own way. 

I loved going to the library in school. I remember taking a wood ruler/place marker and searching for the perfect book. I think when you're young you kind of DO judge a book by its cover. Following the Dewey decimal system, I'd carefully slide my ruler next to the book so as not to lose my place, open up the plastic covered prize, check out the size of the words and begin to imagine the story. If it was to my liking, I'd close the book,  hold it tight and walk in total reverence to the librarian. She'd look at the book, look at me (making me wonder if I was worthy of taking it,) stamp the card in front and recite a date when the book needed to be returned. Now, I don't know about you. But I remember thinking, "What kind of maniac wouldn't bring a book back?" We not only got to borrow a book, we got to bring it back and get another one! What a fabulous idea. 

It's funny what we remember as children. Reading for me was a wonderful escape. I devoured the stories about children who lived in box cars. I got the Amelia Bedelia mix-ups. I wanted to be Nancy Drew's friend or one of the Hardy Boy's girlfriends. Judy Blume wrote about girls that were like me.  I got a letter from Beverley Cleary in the fourth grade and thought I could die right then. Blubber could have been MY little brother....

When I was a teen, I snuck Harlequin romances under my bed and read books that were earmarked in just the right places. Friends would trade books like shoes. "I'll give you my Jane Erye book for your new Danielle Steele novel.." and so it went until....well, one of my girlfriends and I still swap out books.

Now that I'm older, my interests have changed, but my love for reading has not. One of my favorite things in the house is my library. No, it's not a dark room with walls full of bookshelves and sliding ladders, (I wish!!)  but it is filled with many of my reference books and favorite reads. Still though,  I have boxes of books strewn through the house and garage. Me, with too much of something? Shocking. Too many for even a room full of books. I came to realize there are probably hundreds of books that I could be sharing instead of storing. What good are any of these without being used? Was my only interest so people would look at the library and say, "Wow. you have a lot of books. You must be really well-read. You must be one of them-there smart people.".. Um, no. Instead, a relative came over and perused the bookshelves and asked, "Do you really know how to speak Japanese or are you being pretentious?" The answer is yes and maybe a little yes. I used to speak some Japanese, but I don't speak to many other people using it. I can barely read it anymore, so truthfully, I don't know what my intention was by choosing to put it on a shelf instead of my well-written-reads-that-became-cheesy-movies-books. Seriously. I have a shelf full of feng shui gardening books and I live in the desert. Oh and did I mention that I loathe gardening?

What in the world is the point of this post? Well, I'm slowly trying to simplify my world.  I decided to start getting rid of some of the overflow; a little at a time.... 

This is what I'm going to do. Starting with the book shelves, I'm going to read a book (I bought it for SOME reason..) and then I'm giving that baby (the book) away. Do you want it? Let me know. I'll send it to you. If you live down the street, I'll give it to you. We'll do a little drawing with each book, unless you're the only one who wants it...then, well it's yours!

I have one favor. Read and enjoy the book and then, please give it to someone else. Pass it on to a family member, a friend or drop it off to your nearest women's shelter. Don't let it gather dust. 

I think of that little girl borrowing one book at a time from her school, never imagining in a million years she'd be blessed to have so many books of her own. She would never have kept them from being shared. By reading and passing them along, it would have made her appreciate each and every book and maybe, a little more excited for the next read...

What do you think? Let me know..

Have a wonderful Friday, friends :)


  1. Shel,
    Love this idea! I too had many books in boxes and on shelves that I felt I needed to keep, even if I knew I wouldn't be reading them again. Only because I didn't want to part with them. They are all my friends. But when Dave bought me my Kindle, my newest bestest friend, I knew it was time to part with some of them. So I gave most of them away. I was actually sad to see them go. And I wondered if they would be treated with the love that I had given them. Kinda silly, huh?
    One of the things that I spend more money on, even more than clothes, shoes, and (gasp!) hand bags, is books! I never feel bad for spending money on books for my kids or me. Even when there was a time that I should of been spending on things! And the biggest down fall for working in a preschool class for over 6 yrs was the darn Schoolastic forms that we sent home every month with the kids. I got to see them first, and when they came in I was almost in a doggone sweat just getting them apart so I could pick the ones I wanted to buy!!! Ahhhh the good ol' days. Too bad the rent wasn't getting paid, by man oh man, we had books to read! Ha!! Good thing Noah is still in elementary school and we still get those wonderful forms to buy books from. And thank goodness all of my children got my love of reading.
    As I said in the beginning of my rant, this is a great idea. Does the book your giving away come tucked gently into one of your amazing shellybean bags???? Jus' wishin'. :)

    Love your FF and one of those who can remember that lil girl you were speaking of. :)

  2. Oh Nick, those are my exact feelings. They are like friends. And they are hard to part with. I think that's why I wanted a little control over where they were going. All those years of teaching and Scholastic book orders? You have just described my garage. I probably won't stop buying them, but I am going to try to keep them circulating. I'm so glad you are enjoying your kindle. I love the iPad, but I have to tell you, there is nothing like holding a book and turning the pages, cracking the spine of a new book and looking down at the top of the book onto the pages to see just how much you have left to read. You and I were meant to be friends :)


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