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Monday, December 22, 2008

Illiteracy

Am I the only one who will read a book more than once just for the sheer pleasure of it? Or is Cape Cod just a particularly illiterate region?

I've been re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien as is my wont every year around Christmas-time. Here is a normal conversation that occurs between me and co-workers, friends, kids in my youth youth group, etc:

Other Person: What are you reading?
Me: Tolkien, The Two Towers, part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Actually, I just finished it last night, I'm on the third chapter of The Return of the King now)
OP: Oh. Is it good?
Me: Heck yes. I loved these books before they made them into movies.
OP: Oh, you've read them before?
Me: Of course, they're good books.
OP: Seriously? Why would you read a book if you've already read it once? I never read a book more than once.
Me: Well, do you a watch a movie more than once?
OP: Yeah, if it's good.
Me: Well, it's the same for me and books.

I guess I don't see what's so strange about reading and re-reading books because that's what I've grown up doing. I've read Tolkien's trilogy along with The Hobbit and The Silmarillion multiple times. One of my favorite books, Moonfleet, I've probably read 20+ times. Granted I'm not re-reading them every year (with the exception of LOTR...I try to read it at Christmas time every year mainly because that's when my dad would read them aloud to me when I was a child). However, to me, books are like friends; one gets to know the characters so well that even though I've read the book and know what's going to happen, it's almost as though it happens that way not because the author penned it as such, but because there would be no other way for that character to act.

I remember having conversations with a dear friend of mine (and fellow writer) when we were struggling through college. We were both so sick of writing academically and craved the creative pen again. I remember one conversation she told me that she had people in her head begging her to write about them and tell their stories. I've expeirenced this as well. I've written a few short stories where, initially, I tell it the way I want to tell it, but somewhere along the lines it's just not right. It's because before you can write a good book, you have to develop who the characters are so when you put them in various situations it's almost as if they call the shots based on who you created them to be.

I digress. My point is I understand that it doesn't take as much time or brain power to watch a movie or 2, 3, 4 hours of television, but I guess I don't understand how someone cannot enjoy reading a good story unless they're that illiterate that it's a struggle and a challenge. Am I being too cocky? I grew up reading. For a homeschooled, sheltered little Christian girl with no cable, there was really no other option. Plus, my parents laid the foundation by reading to my sister and me when we were small. The only memory I have of how we spent our evenings as a young family is of my dad reading to us followed by "jamming" on his guitar. I remember the Oz books by L. Frank Baum (14 books in the entire series), the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, and my favorite, "The Adventures of Oblio and Enzio," created from my dad's own mind.

Books are friends. Aside from their obvious values, expanding the mind, learning new vocabulary, strengthening reading and comprehension skills, books hold within them the key to the imagination. In the words of the Bookkeeper from The Neverending Story (another amazing book), "Books are no bebebe's."

And with that, I'm done. And I haven't even started on how I think romance novels don't even count as books...

2 comments:

Life as I know it said...

I'm with you...we grew up with no TV so books it was. I remember reading books out loud to my little brothers and sisters. To this day, I love a good book. Lately, I've been reviving the "oldies but goodies." It's been great.

fnx85 said...

I'm quite aware this blog is over a year old, but just wanted to say that I relate. Every book I own has been read at least twice. In fact, at one point in time, I would read Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion' once a month!