you are what you read

It seems I’m not the only one who judges someone by what they read. Am I the only person who finds it hard to believe Bush actually read 95 books in a year? And I didn’t think it was possible but I lost even more respect for Sarah Palin because she couldn’t list a single newspaper, magazine, or book she has read recently.

I personally find it easier to talk to people who enjoy reading. It’s probably not a coincidence that the two coworkers I spend the most time talking to are librarians. I don’t know what I would have done if my younger sister hadn’t grown up to love books like I do. I worry that my hypothetical future children won’t grow up to be readers. The one thing I nag my husband about most is reading. I find myself almost giddy with happiness when we are in bed reading together. I’m fairly certain I love reading because of my parents. They drive almost an hour to get their books from the Korean bookstore, where they are known by name.

I’m an Obama fan so I enjoyed Slate’s article, Obama’s Book Bag, that analyzed Obama’s summer reading list, as well as books he’s referred to or quoted. I have to admit that I felt pretty good about myself that several books on his list are also on mine. What does someone’s reading list say about a person? I wonder what people would think if they saw mine.

(incomplete list of what comes to mind)
Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
Bound to Please by Michael Dirda
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Mencken: The American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Scat by Carl Hiaasen
Nation by Terry Pratchett

at end of the Rainbow

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,
Take a look, it’s in a book — Reading Rainbow …

I heard on NPR today that the show Reading Rainbow is coming to an end after 26 years. I remember watching it as a kid and loving it. I was already an avid reader but there was something the show could do that I couldn’t and that was go on adventures. I grew up pretty sheltered, with over-protective immigrant parents. They encouraged my love of books so my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me before bed. My younger sister and I weren’t allowed to watch much television and it took years of begging, pleading, and bargaining to get a Nintendo but if we wanted to go to the library or if we wanted to buy books at the school book fair, they never said no. And we were allowed to watch Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, and Mr. Rogers.

The show was definitely unique. There is nothing like it and there probably never will be. Sadly, the show is ending not because there is no audience but because there is no funding. Our government is stressing the importance of phonics and spelling and testing (and test scores). I agree that the fundamentals are important but I think before the fundamentals comes the love of reading. My sister probably wanted to learn to read because she saw how much I enjoyed it. And she probably learned without realizing what I was teaching her. Now that the fundamentals are being taught first, reading becomes a chore, something you have to do for school instead of something you do for fun. (Sometimes getting my husband to read is a chore!) And that makes me sad.

a thankless job well done

I know I should be grateful to have a job and one that pays me well. But there is a part of me that feels like it’s dying slowly day by day. Management has made changes again for no logical reason so I can only come to the conclusion that it is to make our lives miserable. They have taken any joy out of this job. This is my 6th year here and I am ready to leave but I have nowhere to go. So I’ll keep on doing what I do because I do it well.

The good news is, I got into grad school! I am now officially an English Lit major. Classes start September 22 so I’m trying to read (for fun) as much as I can. Maybe I can find some time to read at work today. Probably not.