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Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is Reading Month

Why(what) is this woman reading in a bra?
In honor of reading month, I've assembled some fabulous people to do guest posts. (I have spots left if you'd like to be among them. Shoot me an email at SarahJPerry9 at gmail dot com with the subject "Reading Month" and, in the words of Lennon/McCartney, we can work it out.)

Reading is a heavy topic to tackle. Really, where do you start with it? How can you boil down the beauty, fun and importance of reading? It's really difficult, but fellow author and friend, Jody Lamb has managed to grab the ethereal topic of reading and make it sparkle. I knew she could.

So I'll let Jody kick off reading month in her own magical way. (And if you want more examples of her fabulous writing style, check out her blog.)

And now, on to Jody...

When writers write of reading, we promise of adventure in literary land. Like those stunning, come-explore commercials with aerial footage of exotic places, we tell of books as tickets to grand voyages. Hurry, we say, here comes your whimsical, chance catching of a magic carpet’s edge to experience the worlds you’ll never otherwise see, touch or taste.

It’s a tall challenge to describe something we consider one of life’s greatest gifts! Such a colorful presentation is a must for a faint chance for books to earn a spot beside the entertainment buffet refreshed moment to moment by Hollywood, YouTube and Apple.

As attention spans slim and thrill expectations skyrocket among the reluctant, the too-busy-to-bother-to-read kids and adults, I kick my enthusiasm up a notch to rival that of a travel agent struggling to meet her sales goal for the month.

It feels strange to me, though, when I speak of reading this way, because I feel I’ve only told half the truth about my beloved past time and me.

The truth is the greatest gift reading has given me is to keep me right in my own world, rooted in what I know. While I enjoy the other world adventures, what I’ve really always adored was realistic fiction.

Twenty years ago, my cozy reading spot was on a cushionless wooden floor against my pale blue bedroom wall, beneath a drafty window, in the evening sun.

Actor dramatazation of a young Jody Lamb.
 There I’d read Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona” series, Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and just about every realistic novel my elementary school library owned.

I coveted those books more than my classmates’ poured hours into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mario and Luigi, Animaniacs and that one show on Nickelodeon where green slop fell from the ceiling onto people’s heads.

Once, my teacher asked me what it was about realistic fiction that was more interesting to me than video games, movies and even Goosebumps and the other popular books of my era.

A nearly inaudible, “I’m not sure,” tiptoed from my lips and I shrugged off the guilt for telling a white lie.

I knew the truth.

Those stories with relatable, lovable characters chased away fears that I was alone. The characters had problems. Their families weren’t perfect.

Ramona’s family struggled to pay the bills sometimes, too. Like me, Margaret pondered big picture stuff and felt like her peers were infinitely more confident and comfortable with themselves. 

But they made it through, and I knew I would, too.

These tender looks at life as a young person were hugely impactful to me. Growing up is far more complicated than we recall as adults. The problems, the worries are real, perhaps much heavier than in grownup life for some.

Today these realistic stories have the same effects on me. They fuel me up on courage and help me view my own life more clearly.

For this, I’m forever grateful, and this is exactly why I’m happy to be an energetic, vocal fan and tireless travel agent to the world of reading. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, Jody. I especially like this: "They fuel me up on courage and help me view my own life more clearly." Realistic fiction has always been my favorite too.