Reading is one of the most wonderfully simple joys in my life.

Here is another.

New books from the book fair

New books from the book fair

I was talking with j. today about reading.  Sort of.  It was more the English/Language Arts class expectations in regards to reading.  For me, a book is enjoyable.  Or it’s not.  I am a voracious reader, but I’ve missed most of the classics.  Pondering this, I believe it’s because my memory of reading “the classics” is tied with a very strong cord to papers written, handed in, and returned with criticisms that I didn’t “get” the book.  (And, yet, my overall English grades were good, and somehow I managed to ace the AP exam…did I just happen upon a grader who “got” me?  Or did the subject of the essay play to my strengths?  How do we explain doing so well on the multiple choice portion if I didn’t fundamentally understand authorial intent?)

I despised being made to break down a piece of literature and attempt to glean what the author meant.  What was the symbolism?  The characters’ roles in the greater world?  The author’s intended impact?  I don’t know!  Can’t I just read the book, tell you what I liked (or didn’t), and move on?  I always suspected, somewhere in the back of my mind, that professors and teachers were pulling a lot of the symbolism and such from their rear ends, because – unless the author had written a study guide to go with the book (which I certainly never saw) – how were these people who lived fifty or a hundred years later determining the original intent and symbolism?

I’m still not a deep thinker when it comes to my reading, and for the past fifteen years, I’ve avoided those heavier books that remind me of the forcible picking apart of another writer’s work.  I enjoy most genres, but my two favorites are historical fiction (which, because I am a romantic and because I don’t mind a bit of a ripped bodice here and there, includes – but is by no means limited to – historical romance, with a lean towards Regency romance) and what I think of as “realism-based fantasy.”  The latter includes such books as the Harry Potter series, Nora Roberts’ trilogies that include just enough of the supernatural to be considered almost plausible, etc.  I read all of these books because I can lose myself in them.  I love it.  I adore having my nose in a book.  It’s as simple as that.

I hope my boys find the analyzation of literature easier than I did.  I want them to feel more confidence in their school papers.  On the other hand, I don’t want them to lose sight of enjoying a book simply for its story.  That’s where they are now…a place I’ve never been willing to leave.  I’d be okay if they stuck a toe out now and then, though.  You know, just to write a profoundly insightful essay or two.