The highlight of my breaks and vacations has always been the chance to read—and read a lot. Growing up, I would go to the library every day. While I enjoyed the programs the library had to offer, I really loved the chance to peruse all of the books available. In college, the extra time meant I would finally have choice in my reading material after reading for courses all semester. As a teacher, my school year reading was usually in preparation for what my students would be reading. Vacations and breaks were times for me to choose for ME.
I was inspired by the Build Your Stack® initiative to think back about specific points in my life and reminisce about what I was reading.
Age 5—The Velveteen Rabbit
I never had a favorite blankie, nor was I a big fan of stuffed animals. However, this story of the stuffed rabbit that comes to life after being loved for so long touched me. As a youngster, I wondered what I could make come to life if I loved it. I loved and loved but none of my inanimate objects came to life. I used to imagine what they would do and say if they did come alive.
Age 10—Anything by Judy Blume
As a fourth grader, I loved that there was a book that I could relate to—Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Peter’s annoyance with almost everything as well as being misunderstood by his family—those things mirrored my life! I made it my goal then to read all of Judy Blume’s books. I enjoyed reading her because she oftentimes touched on subjects many tweens are dealing with but not many people like to talk about—bullying, puberty, fitting in. I was tickled as an adult to learn that she also wrote for grown-ups. And yes, I have read all of Judy Blume’s books.
Age 15—Flowers in the Attic
I wish I knew how I came to read V.C. Andrews. I am not sure I would have picked out Flowers in the Attic on my own. But I did choose it and chose to read it over and over. I read every book in that series. I read other series by the same author. I was fascinated and mystified. I imagined the characters—what they looked like, how they would sound. I tried to put myself in their situation. How would I react? Could I escape? I have not watched the movie version. I am sure the one I imagined was so much better!
After my reading material was called “junk” by a friend, we spent several breaks and vacations choosing books for each other to read. We were allowed to read one book of our choice, and then we had to follow up by reading a book selected by the other. My friend picked nonfiction titles for me to read. By the end of the year, I read four or five books on Kennedy’s assassination. I was vaguely interested in the topic when I started and pretty much an expert when summer was over!
Age 25—Parenting Books
I became a mom around this time. I read a lot to my daughter, and she adored that time. In fact, her first birthday cake was shaped like a book and its title was “The Story of Kelsey’s First Birthday.” I also started reading all kinds of parenting books as I wanted to learn every tip so I could give my daughter the best possible foundation. After watching a segment on Oprah, I went out and bought the book See Jane Win. The author followed hundreds of successful women and she identified the traits and experiences they all had in common. It was very thought-provoking and an interesting read.
By now, I had two kids, a new career and another part-time job. I became increasingly frustrated that it took me months to finish a book. I couldn’t stay interested because I would forget too many details between readings. However, with magazines, I could finish reading an article in less than 5 minutes! While I loved to devour magazines like People and Us Weekly, I would also try to balance those with Time and Newsweek. We subscribe to a large number of magazines at our house – and I still get a little giddy when they come in the mail!
Similar to magazines, cookbooks can also be read all at once or in short bursts. I took this time of my life to go through my own collection of cookbooks to see which ones I should keep, which ones I should use more, and which ones should be donated. I also checked out large numbers of cookbooks from the library, experimenting with new cuisine. I learned that my favorite cookbooks are those that have been spilled on and have notes in the margins.
Age 40—Book Club Suggestions
Since my children were getting older, I decided I needed to get some hobbies for myself. I joined several book clubs – one with friends, one at our public library, and others online around professional topics. The book clubs were great for me because I would once again read books that I wouldn’t necessarily chose myself. I found new authors and dug into genres that I wouldn’t have on my own. I am already thinking about my next online book club selection!
What will I be reading at 45? I can name a few things on my list, but we will have to wait and see.
What have you read throughout your life? What made an impact on you? Enjoy your reading over break!