I love to read. When I’m not busy (define: can’t find any storytelling or Teaching Artist gigs) I read A LOT. I always have a book in the car, in case I’m stuck somewhere or just want to relax (no, not while driving, silly…that’s what texting is for! 😉 ). But…it wasn’t always the case.
Except for comic books (which was, and always will be, a passion of mine) I hated being forced to read a BOOK for school. Yes, I did my assignments, begrudgingly. When we were allowed to bring in our own books to read, my choice was the Tom Swift series (no namby pamby Hardy Boys). I really enjoyed the Tom Swift books. Science Fiction and adventure, with a character I wanted to BE. You’d think the teacher would have been happy I was reading, right?
Wrong. What actually made me want to read a book was NOT in her world of what book reading is. While now I know she was trying to broaden my horizons in reading, what she actually did was shut me down from wanting to read anything (yes, I am stubborn). Instead of encouragement, or finding other books that were in the same vein but would wean me into a different direction, I got a big “NO, that book is below your reading level” (I was always testing about three to four grades higher in that) and “don’t ever bring those type of books in again.” Now, that may have not been her words, but…it’s how I took it.
The two books above, by TH White and Robert Silverberg, respectively, changed that. One high fantasy (and which continued my love of King Arthur, and was the basis of one of my favorite Disney cartoons, The Sword in the Stone); the other, Science Fiction of, to me, a quality far beyond what I had read before. I am not even sure, now, which book I read first. I’m pretty sure I read them around the same time. Both, though, raced through me, took my imagination to places I’d only glimpsed before in comics, animation and movies. THIS is was excited me, these new worlds, exciting characters, moral ambiguities, thoughts beyond the norm.
I have to thank my orthodontist for all this. In his waiting room, he stacked a bookcase full of paperbacks that he had already read, getting rid of the clutter in his house. We were allowed to borrow them, and we had to return the book before we could get another. His bookcase became my life blood in reading outside of what the schools demanded of me. I do remember beginning to read more, and I’m pretty sure that one of the next books that had an impact on me was Issac Assimov’s Foundation. His bookcase turned me onto two of my all time favorite authors: Roger Zelazny and Micheal Moorecock. Both Science Fiction writers, and the only two that I now “collect” their body of work. So, a huge THANK YOU to Dr. Z (I honestly wish I could remember his last name, but I always called him Dr. Z) where ever you are.
Since then, I have expanded my reading genres. The more I branch out, the deeper my life referencing is. Not just in reading, but music, art, theater, dance and other things outside of the arts. As an improvisational creator and educator, I can bring so much more to who I am sharing space with. I’m not walking in, blindfolded in life by limitations of my own doing, or those “forced” upon me. I may not have the love or deeper investment someone else may have, but I can at least catch a glimmer of it and let them know that I know.
Please don’t ever discourage someone from liking something, especially in school. Find what makes them click, and expand upon it.
What turned you into a reader, or …why aren’t you one?