Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Speaking of books . . .

Yesterday I was sorting through some notes - a hodge-podge collection of classroom handouts, magazine articles, college notes - all things related to literature and teaching in some way or another, yet woefully disorganized (everything was in one big pile - now there's at least six piles, but, hey, at least they're six sorted piles!). I came across an essay I had printed out when I was in college, an author's reflections on the first "real" book she read, To Kill a Mockingbird. If you've read the book, or even if you just love reading, this essay will delight you.

"My First 'Real' Book" by Elizabeth Strout
"Who are you talking about?" I demanded.
"It's a book," my mother said.
And I sat back and thought with amazement and pleasure: this is the stuff that's in grown-up books? When we got home I asked if I could read it, and my mother handed me a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I sat in the big chair in the living room and felt some trepidation as I opened it. This was not, after all, a book with colorful pictures. This was, in my mind, "the real thing." And 35 years later, having read this novel again and again, it maintains a status in my life as important as any first love; while there have been other books, other loves, To Kill a Mockingbird was the one that first ushered me, with wonderful completeness, into a whole new world.


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