"I am quite illiterate, but I read a lot." J.D. Salinger

From mamabear@home: Hey girl! Just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns. Do you want it back or should I just pass it on? Also, Pet wants to know if you still have The Shack? ~Zoe

When I was a little girl my mom read Where The Red Fern Grows to me and my brother. Every Saturday we would sit on the porch and she would open the book and read us a chapter. I was six, my brother ten.

Our lives we not easy then but those Saturday’s were magical to me. I would wait all week, dying to know what had happened to Dan and Ann and their young master in Tallaquah, Oklahoma.

If you have never read Where The Red Fern Grows, a) shame on you! and b) bring a box of Kleenex, it is a major tearjerker.

It is said that you never forget the first book that reaches down into your heart and grabs hold and, for me at least, that is only half of the fact. True, I have never forgotten my first love. But that love wasn’t limited to one story, it spawned a love of reading that runs deep in my soul.

It is rare to find me without a book, often reading two or three at a time.

When I discover a new author I devour their entire works, gorging myself on the taste and texture of their imagination but never quite sated.

Mind you I am a fickle stalker. Disappoint me once and I am likely to abandon you on the spot, never to return.

My tastes are eclectic and often unexplainable. I read everything, Kafka and Stephen King, Jane Austen and Alice Hoffman, historical non-nonfiction and chicklit. The only requirement is that you engage me. Make me feel what you are feeling, share you story with me and I will give my heart to you.

Currently I am on a Toni Morrison binge. Sula and Son of Solomon this week alone. My god that woman can write! Her people are real and true only unto themselves. I can see Milkman in my mind as though he were my next door neighbor, a face I see everyday but never really knew until we sat down together and shared ourselves. Sula’s walk, Pilate’s freedom, Eva’s cruelty are as much a part of me as my sister’s smiles. They are family now, people I care about and lessons I have learned.

I can forgive bad grammar, poor editing and convoluted plot lines. But do not betray your character. Do not sacrifice the truth of the person on the altar of storyline. For while the writer may have conceived the character, the birth takes place not on the page but in the heart of the reader. And as mothers we will fiercely defend our progeny.

I have been on summer break the last two weeks. My house is a mess, my spring cleaning an entire season past due. There are are letters unwritten and bills unpaid. But I have read. Lord God have I read! I lost an entire weekend in the company of Alice Hoffman’s Third Angel, gorged myself on Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate (Como Aqua Para Chocolate). Fell asleep with Sula opened on my chest and The lived The Life of Pi.

I made friends with Sorrow and cried with First Corinthians, basked in the coolness of The Shadow of the Wind.

Classes will start back next week and my free-love affair with books will mature into a solid relationship, a slow lovemaking with staid suitor. I am taking Brit Lit, the textbook alone a solid five inches thick. But at night, when no one is looking, I will set aside the classic and indulge in a fling with it’s cheeky cousin. Can’t wait.

~ by D.L. Graves on May 24, 2009.

One Response to “"I am quite illiterate, but I read a lot." J.D. Salinger”

  1. As an avid reader and Toni Morrison fan, you should check out her latest work, BURN THIS BOOK. http://theharperstudio.com/authorsandbooks/burnthisbook/There is an online petition that you can sign, to join the fight against literary censorship!

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