Category Archives: Reading

Readers are Leaders

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. Weekly Saturday trips to the library (where my mom would drop me off and pick me up hours later) were sacred. I scored very high on my first grade reading evaluation and often read books above my grade level. I preferred reading to visiting friends on weekends and after school.

But I didn’t like writing about what I read. In 5th grade Miss Jaderman evaluated our reading ability on small book reports we wrote for books we read. After 5 book reports we got a small pin, after 15 we got a better pin and after 25 we got a gold pin. While I eventually earned my 25 book pin, I got low reading marks for a few quarters and was recommended for the remedial reading class for 6th grade.

We were not expected to write much on the book reports, they were less than half a sheet of 8.5×11 paper. The top half was reserved for an illustration. After filling out the title of the book and author, there was maybe room for 100 words. But I hated doing it. I know I read more than 25 books that year, probably more than most of the class, but because I was so reluctant to fill out the book report forms, I was considered a poor reader.

At the end of the year we were given all of our book reports, bound between two sheets of construction paper with brass colored brads. I think my book report portfolio was orange. I think I still have it somewhere, I distinctly remember what it looked like.

A few weeks ago I found the book report pins. Strange how I kept them all these years, despite despising the method of earning them.

I guess this is one of these things I need to let go. My anger at Miss Jaderman for not realizing I was a good reader — just a reluctant writer and the shame I felt being placed in the low reading class in 6th grade (luckily my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, figured out I was a good reader within days and brought me back to the regular/advanced reading group).

Things like this could squelch the love of reading out of someone. I am forever grateful to Mrs. Anderson for this, as well as for fostering an even greater love of reading.

My most *** purchase ever

Our topic last week was your most insert adjective here purchase ever. I have not read any of the posts and I really don’t know that there is one stand-out purchase for any adjective I can think of.

Oh wait.

I think I know.

My most un-woke purchase ever

On January 30, 2020 I bought the Kindle addition of American Dirt. I’d read many articles, tweets and blog posts explaining why I should not buy the book, but I bought it anyway.

I did it because it was recommended by Stephen King. I didn’t do it because Oprah chose it for her book club. I did it so I could talk about something that I’d actually read and not just read about.

I started reading it. I thought it was well-written, at least what I read. I stopped for a few reasons: to concentrate on books I needed to read for this reason or that, I didn’t like part of the storyline, I felt guilty for buying it in the first place.

I still plan on finishing it but it needs to wait in line for a few other books I want to finish.

The End (finally)

Seven months shy of twenty years ago* I complained to some friends that my kids were reading books that I thought were too young for them. One friend suggested I buy a book, the first in a series, place it in a prominent location, and tell Clare and Andrew they should not read it because it was too advanced for them. He went on to explain that the book seems to be written at a grade school level, but is full of higher vocabulary (with embedded definitions by the author/narrator).

Photograph of six Brainstormers at a rare non-virtual meeting.
Possibly the night I first heard about A Series of Unfortunate Events (George is on the far right)

Shortly thereafter I bought The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket and placed it on the living room coffee table. When one of the kids asked about the book, I did as George instructed and told them that I bought it for myself and that I thought they were too young to understand it.

Of course I read the book first, and found it delightfully unusual. The kids, one at a time, stealthily picked up the book and read it too. I continued buying the books as they were published until we had a full set (plus an extra The Hostile Hospital for some reason).

I grew tired of the books after a while, they are very formulaic, but intentionally so. I’d read one, then not read another for a while — and eventually stopped after reading The Carnivorous Carnival.

When Netflix announced it was producing a television series based on A Series of Unfortunate Events I was interested, but when I learned that Neil Patrick Harris was playing Count Olaf, I knew I had to watch it, but I wanted to make sure I’d read books before it aired. I didn’t manage to finish them before the series aired, but did manage to finish each book before I watched the Netflix episodes that featured the events in the books. I started reading them again through our library’s ebooks (our hard copies disappeared with one of the kids once they left for college or life after college — although they both deny taking them). I finished The End at 5:00 this morning, having pretty much stayed up all night to do so.

Then after a few hours’ sleep I watched the last episode in the Netflix series.

It’s taken me nearly twenty years to finish a set of 13 books written for children. The mystery has been solved for me (who is Beatrice?), although I am still confused. I am sure the internet will explain it to me though.


*I might be misremembering this since the books would only have been published the month before the gathering in which I thought this conversation took place, so maybe it was more like eighteen years ago…