When I finished grad school, the last thing I wanted to do was read more. I had just spent the last two years of my life under a pile of Margaret
Atwood’s books and poetry, articles about dystopia and female autonomy, small and large works from every time period and continent, not to mention piles of my own students’ writing. I was burnt out and tired. I did not want to read another word no matter how well it was written.
That lasted about a week.
I realised that while I was buried under research and comprehensive exam prep I had missed out on pleasure reading. And when I reflected on the books that I had read both in high school, college, and grad school, I noted some gaps. Some giantly massive gaps. Gaping gaps.
I had never read 1984 or Brave New World, Flowers for Algernon, The Catcher in the Rye, or <gasp> To Kill a Mockingbird. So I began. I started with Madame Bovary, not sure why, but I felt that was a good place to start. And I read. I tried to read through all of those books that I had missed somehow.
But it’s impossible to keep up. Good books are everywhere.
On Wednesday, I was at a friend’s house to teach a homeschool English class for her 13 year old. For some reason we were talking about animals that live in Australia but nowhere else as well as North American animals that she or her children had never encountered in Australia. The conversation turned to moose. I relayed a story of a trip my husband and I had taken to Canada and our encounters with moose along with some stories about living in Northern Minnesota and how moose would sometimes show up in the city. She immediately went to her bookshelf and pulled out Hatchet by Gary Paulson. She asked if I had read it, and I was embarrassed to tell her no. It’s another one of those books that should be read but I just hadn’t read it. I took it home with me.
When I got home, I showed my husband the book and asked if he had read it. He, of course, said yes. He had read it at university in a children’s lit class taught by one of my favourite college professors and favourite people of all time (Hi, Terry Flaherty!). So once again I am behind. There are just too many books in my life to read.
Today when I got home from a friend’s house and a trip to the gym, I picked it up and began reading. It’s such a small book, but the action begins immediately. I wasn’t expecting it to start within that first chapter. Most of the other books I read seem to save the action for the second chapter or later using those initial chapters to introduce the characters and the scene and the context, but not this book. I wish I didn’t have a list of things to do yet tonight because all I want to do is sit down and find out what happens when the plane goes down.