Emerson Whispering Sweet Somethings In
For as long as I can remember, I have been defending, explaining or justifying my reading habits to someone. And here I go again. When I was little more than a toddler, I would carry stacks of my picture books with me from room to room. My Dad would ask, Why do you need so many? I couldn't articulate an answer then. All I could do was hug the stack to my chest and shrug. I remember times I would make two or three trips from my room to the living room couch. I would climb onto the couch next to the pile of books and I would lose myself in them for hours. I loved to have several opened at once. Even then I knew the power of letting my books talk to one another. I would introduce Little Red Riding Hood to the Three Little Pigs. I would see The Gingerbread Man off on the yellow brick road. And Goldilocks had great fun with Christopher Robin and Pooh.
I reveled in the sensory pleasure of the physical books as well as in the stories. I loved to caress the pages. The different textures thrilled me. As did the variety of sizes from the size of my three-year-old hand to too big for my lap. To hold a closed book and slowly open it was just like opening a present. And every book had its own smell which rivaled all others for my affections. The only smell I liked better than the smell of a brand new book is that of a just bathed baby.
My reading habits have changed very little since then. I still carry stacks of books from room to room with me. I've been known to take more books than clothes on trips. I often have the forty item limit on my library card tapped out. And then put more on my husband's card. Right now within arms reach are more than thirty books with bookmarks showing. And that is just the tip of the iceberg because I have bookmarks in dozens of books on the shelves at the library. Some of these will soon trade places with some of those and later trade places again, as the bookmarks slowly make their ways from closer to the front cover to closer to the back cover.
Up until my late twenties I read mostly fiction. Then I went back to school. I declared an English major because I wanted to do something about my dream to be a writer. I took all available writing and linguistic classes but I found myself avoiding the Lit classes. I hated the way they dissected the stories I loved. If they weren't already a corpse they soon were. So I set out to fulfill my non-English requirements. And that is when I discovered that the power of story carries over into non-fiction. Story became my open sesame onto the whole entire world of knowledge: History, Philosophy, Psychology, Astronomy, Cosmology, Computer Science, Information Theory. I couldn't then and can't now choose just one to concentrate on. The satisfaction is in the spontaneous dialog springing up between the various stories. Now instead of Goldilocks having a sleepover with Hansel and Gretel., it is Emerson whispering sweet somethings in Einstein's ear or Joseph Campbell discoursing on cosmology with Alan Guth.
A side-effect of immersing myself in non-fiction has been the enlarging of my fiction reading experience. I now understand the intent of those literature classes and will even read literary criticism in small doses though I still find dissecting stories distasteful. But I learned that it is a necessary thing for a would be writer to learn. Just as a doctor had to learn anatomy by dissecting once-living bodies. It is enriching for me to know that James Joyce and Herman Hesse had read the Bhagavad-Gita and then to read in it myself before plunging into their stories. It tickles me to see Prometheus incarnate in the vampire Lestat and Aphrodite rising from the waters of Baywatch. Forgive me but a story is a story and this won't be the last time I inject examples from screen media. I am nearly as addicted to movies and certain TV series as I am to books.
So now you know my qualifications for creating this web page. The qualifications of an addict to stand up at an AA meeting. But this addict has no intention of seeking recovery--only company.
© 1998 & 2004 by Joy Renee Davis