Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Readolution

I recently watched an old family video of myself in purple leggings and a soccer-ball t-shirt struggling over the childhood classic, Hop on Pop that my mom held up for me to read. I watched as my three-year-old self furrowed her little eyebrows and combined all the literary powers in her brain to move from P to U then back to P again, trying to squish the sounds together to sound like a word. I laughed and bounced a little on the couch when I understood the sounds to be the word "pup", and then moved along in the story to discover what word the next letters could turn out to be.

By the time my years had doubled I was reading about Harry's adventures in Hogwarts, so if it hadn't been for this video evidence, I would find it hard to imagine myself not being able to read.

But then there I was a college freshman, with my three ring creative writing binder, mechanical pencil at the ready, listening to my English teacher recite a little piece of advice. "Listen to your ear, listen to your ear. But only if you are a reader." (I think it was supposed to rhyme. Cute.) I scribbled the phrase into my notebook, nodding in agreement. Oh yeah. I'm a reader, I thought. I can trust my literary ear. Definitely. I love reading.

And then something really scared me. I couldn't remember the last book I had even read.

I guess that wasn't necessarily true. The last book I'd read was Hamlet the last month of my High school career. Before that was Poisonwood Bible, then Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness, and The Road. Then there was Twelfth Night, Huckleberry Finn, Frederick Douglass, and wait a minute these are all school assignments.

So I really had to think. What was the last book I had read for pleasure? At first I really scared myself and thought it was the Children of the Promise series back in eighth grade, but then I remembered reading Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins the summer between tenth and eleventh grade. (A real work of art by the way. I highly recommend it.) And I think that's the one. The last book that I had, of my own free will, been through from start to finish.

So I got myself a library card and went to the library.

And it was beautiful.

The rough and dusty smell of book pages, the rows of alphabetized shelves, and the ominous air of quiet wisdom. Even the Library Catalog that can find every audio book in the place before even considering you might possibly be searching for the actual book.

So here's my New Years resolution: READ, READ, READ. I can't believe I ever stopped. There are so many words out there! So many works and authors and subjects, and I've already gotten three years behind! Hello Emilyn, wake up and smell the pages! And get back to work. Stretch your literary muscles a little, and start calling yourself a reader again. Good grief.