Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Photo A Day, Day 15: I'm Reading This

I’ve always been an avid reader. My mom told me that I learned to read well before kindergarten, and I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t in the middle of some book or another (and often more than one at a time). I loved getting to know the characters in a book, and I was sad whenever I got to the end of a book, because there were no more adventures to be had with them. And then I discovered the joys of book SERIES. I didn’t have to abandon my friends at the end of the book, because there was another one to start in on right afterwards! Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, the Pevensie children, Trixie Belden, Anne Shirley, and Laura Ingalls kept having adventure after adventure, and I was right by their sides, eagerly awaiting each new installment.

So when my son began to read on his own recently, I began to think about the kind of books we could read together over the coming months and years. I looked back through the beloved books of my own childhood; I recalled the delightful new children’s books I discovered later in life through my mom, a children’s librarian; and I browsed through bookstores looking for interesting stories to share.

During all this research, I naturally pored over my own eclectic book collection, both my legion of hard copies and my growing Kindle collection. I leafed fondly through my boxed set of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (my third set, having loved the first two to the point of disintegration), I pulled out my dog-eared copy of The Phantom Tollbooth, I set aside my copy of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes for Easter reading. But the books I kept returning to, the ones I kept wondering impatiently when my son would be ready to read, were my Harry Potter collection.

I pulled one of the books off the shelf; it happened to be Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I meant to just read a few lines, yet once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. The beauty of re-reading old favorites, of course, is that you can jump in at any point and know exactly what’s happened so far. So it didn’t matter that the particular book I chose was in the middle of the series; I have read and loved these books so well that I might as well have read the preceding book the day before. I was merely rejoining old friends.

Not surprisingly, as soon as I finished re-reading that book, I couldn’t help but grab the next book in the series.

It is a sign of a well-written book that reading it is just as enjoyable when you already know what is about to happen as it is when the ending is a complete mystery. I know the fates of every character in the book; yet I eagerly turn each page, excited to let their story unfold before me yet again. It is like taking a journey on a familiar and well-used road; I know where I’m going and what I’ll see on the way, but I still like to watch the road going past, wondering if I might spy some little detail I’ve missed all the other times I’ve passed by. I never know what new delight I might discover when I’m reading this.

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