Big fat flakes are drifting outside the windows this morning as I sip my steaming cup of steeped chai tea and nibble on a delicious Date Bar. The temperature has dropped significantly this past week or so, and it seems like winter is here to stay… not a bad thing in my opinion, but I know that not everyone would agree with me. So if you hate winter weather, just think of it as a good excuse to stay inside with a hot beverage and read!!
I read two books for school this past week, one for my student book club and one that everyone is reading because the movie just came out. My student book club just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. These kids are in grade 8, and I thought it was somewhat mature for their age, but they wanted to read it, and I think they enjoyed it. I won’t summarize the plot, since I’m fairly sure most people know about this book. We are a group of three students plus me, and all but one of us enjoyed the second half of the book, around the time of the trial and onward, better than the first half. But one of the boys said he enjoyed it all, right from the first page, the characters, the setting, the exploits of Jem and Scout, and he especially liked Dill… well, we all really liked Dill, his quirkiness and vulnerability. Since we have just two weeks before Christmas break, which is not really enough time to start a new book, we’re going to watch the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, which only one student has seen before. One of these students is moving away at the end of December, so we’ll need to recruit new members - we thought that maybe if we called it the Book and Movie Club, others may want to join! Our next book is going to be A Wrinkle in Time, which we will hopefully finish in time for the release of the movie in March. (See, we really are a book and movie club!!)
And because everyone has been reading this book for the past four or five years, students and teachers alike, and because the film adaptation was just released in November, I finally read Wonder by RJ Palacio. This novel tells the story of August Pullman, a fifth-grader who was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis, causing him to have severe facial deformity. Due to his many surgeries in his early life, he has been homeschooled by his mother, but since his health has stabilized, his parents decide that it’s time for him to enter a local middle school, Beecher Prep. Of course this is a difficult adjustment for him and for the students at the school, and he suffers significant ostracization and bullying, but he also manages to form some real and lasting friendships, too. His experiences are equal parts positive and negative, and along with his supportive parents and older sister, he manages to make it through his first year at school, weathering all the ups and downs along the way. There is much more to the plot, but I’m not going to get into the details. And I’m not going to write much about my reading experience, either. I get why teachers love it, I get why kids love it, but I just didn’t love it. It was a super-quick and easy read, and I’m glad to finally be able to cross this off my list of “books I should read because everyone else has read it”, but… well, that’s all I’ll say about it.
Which leads me to think about why we read books, how we choose what we read. I was talking about this with my sister-in-law recently, and it also came up yesterday while I was talking to one of my oldest friends. Both of these people are avid readers too, and through each brief discussion, we determined that there is more to reading than just choosing books we “love”. I thought about what would happen if I took a year off from all of my books clubs and didn’t read any books for school that I didn’t really want to read, and how that would change my “year of reading”, and I realized that it would be impossible to find enough books that I absolutely loved to keep me reading for a full year, that I would need to find 50+ books, and if I discarded every book I began just because it didn’t grab me and draw me in immediately, I would be left with very little selection, and would have to resort to rereading my favourites much more often than I already do. And let’s not even consider audiobooks! So why do we read what we read, and how do we choose, and stick with, books, even if we don’t love them? There are many reasons to choose a book: it’s a new one by a favourite author; it’s a book about which you’ve read great reviews; it’s one that everyone is reading; it’s a book you’ve been meaning to read for ages; or it has an interesting cover (yes, I’ll admit it, I really do sometimes judge a book by its cover!). These are just a few reasons to choose books, but why do we finish books we don’t love (or as my friend says, books that “don’t change my life or my way of thinking”)? Well, we might think it will get better by the end, that it will be worth the effort; we’ve already invested x amount of time reading it, time that would be wasted if we gave up; we don’t have anything else on hand that we would rather be reading; or we want to understand what all the fuss is about (this for bestsellers). After considering all of this, I’ve determined that my year of reading would not look much different if I gave up book club and reading for school, so I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.
That’s all for today. Stay warm and keep reading!
Bye for now…