It’s National Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status. Don’t mention the book. Post these rules as part of your status.
When my good friend Shaun Stewart posted that challenge in the midst of my facebook feed, I felt compelled to respond. So I promptly posted a line from the 2010 edition of The Condominium Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to the Strata Property Act. Another lovely friend of mine, Heather Kennedy, promptly noted that I might need a literary intervention….which got me to thinking…when was the last time I actually read a book for pleasure?
A quick check of my bookcase reveled the following titles:
- How to Grow and Make Your own Wine (bought one evening on Amazon.com after too many glasses of vino where I delusionally thought I could turn my 15X45 foot Kitsilano back yard into a full fledged winery in order to save money on booze)
- A well chewed copy of The Care and Training of your Problematic Rottweiler
- The Bible in Everyday English (essentially, the Coles notes of Bibles. It is what Jesus would say if he were a homeboy.)
- How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse (a gal can never be too careful)
- The Yellow Pages 1994 (because if the internet ever failed, I may need it to call someone).
- Hypochondria: Reading Your Doctor’s Body Language to Understand Your True Diagnosis
- Mexican Cooking: A Pop Up Book.
Maybe Heather was correct. I do need a literary intervention. I searched my brain caves. When did reading become such a chore?
I used to read all the time. But now I read more for information than for pleasure. It started when I went to school and we were asked to analyze stories for their underlying meaning. Being a very thorough soul, I would scouer great works of literature as if there was a Where’s Waldo hidden on every page. My university professor once gave me an A+ on a paper about Steinbeck’s The Pearl because I made incredible parallels between the mention of an ant in the story and the life of Jesus.
Could it be that the last books I truly remember reading for pleasure were the Trixie Belden series when I was a girl?
It had been a while since I had peeked inside a Trixie Belden book so I wandered down to my local library at the corner of Broadway and McDonald. To be honest, it had been a while since I peeked inside a local library. For you young folks, libraries are like Google but in building form. I found the Trixie Belden section by guessing its dewey decimal number. Given my love of learning, it should come as no surprise to you that my very first job was as a library monitor when I was in grade two. My role was to break the spines of new books by opening them. It was sort of like being a mob enforcer for books. I soon got fired because I was too gentle on them.
Trixie Belden was my kinda gal. She spoke to me in a way that stuck up Nancy Drew never could. Trixie was a 13 year old gal who solved crimes with her rich, gorgeous best friend Honey Wheeler and had a crush on Honey’s adopted, orphan brother, Jim. The parallels between us were uncanny. We both lived in the country. We were both brain dense when it came to math. We both hated chores but could be counted on to do them. We were both the frumpy, chunky gal with a “good personality” amongst the pretty people. We both loved adventure, pie and friends.
It suddenly dawned on me how subtly influential these silly books may have had on me. True, I have not opened the Nyfors-Belden-Wheeler Detective Agency (yet!) but it certainly supported my love of independence, adventure and friendship. Perhaps reading for pleasure is something that needs to be a bigger priority. On my way out, I spotted a well worn copy of The Pearl that they were selling for $1. I am going to re-read it and, this time, I will read to enjoy. I will let the ant be an ant.