105 Ways to Give a Book

Real Books for Real Readers

One of the bestselling preschool books of recent times was Walter the Farting Dog. This year the American Library Association named as one of its best books Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, a book in which Mr. Rosen talks about his despair over the death of his son. I believe that, for most of us, what we want lies somewhere between a flatulent canine and overwhelming grief.

Similarly, a 2002 bestseller — widely touted as a “good book” — was The Lovely Bones. This book was awful, preying on our worst fears and lurid fascination with rape, murder, and revenge. In the same year, we heard about Atonement, by Ian McEwan. Now, I am sure this is a great book. But if I, a dedicated and in-practice reader, can’t get through the first twenty pages, then what hope is there for everyone else? How do we find out about the books for us?

We are smart people, but are too tired from our busy lives to tackle heavy books. We don’t want to read something that is depressing to prove it is “worthy literature”; we want to be entertained and enlightened. We want good suggestions for our children, but we don’t always want to go back to the “classics.” We just want to read again, like we used to do.

Welcome. I hope I can help.

Who are you to write this?

I am a mother of two girls, ages six eight and nine eleven. For five seven years, I have had a part-time job as a children’s library assistant (a children’s librarian without the master’s degree or chance of promotion). In my job, I process the new children’s books, seeing all that our large public library gets. For adult books, I read a lot, pulling my choices from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Washington Post’s “Book World,” library patron suggestions, and books I just happen to see.

What do you like to read?

I gravitate toward books about real life, other cultures, and history. But I get ideas from so many sources. I am thrilled when I find a truly funny book. I don’t read much science fiction, mystery, or nonfiction — though I never write any of these categories off. If our sensibilities fit, I’ll have some good suggestions. If not, maybe the children’s books will resonate with you.

How do you find the time to read?

Nobody finds the time to read — they make the time to read. I do have a couple of factors in my favor, though. One, I read very quickly. I’m not talking about “speed-reading,” though I can do that also. I just read faster than most people. I have been known to read so fast I make myself a little sick. Two, I have a high tolerance for undone housework. My house can be very messy. I am not proud of that; in fact, just the opposite. But if the kids have been fed, the kitchen is clean, and we have clothes to wear, I find it hard to do the tidying and cleaning up that eats into everyone’s time. I’d rather read. Sorry, Mom, but there it is. Three, I see new books all the time, so I can’t help but read them. I work with books in front of me. Like a kid in a candy store. How can I turn away?

Why would a man visit this blog?

Many of the books I read are of interest to men or women. But I’ll make you a deal: If the entry title starts with “Guys,” you have my assurance that it’ll be okay for men. (It will be our little secret.) If you’re a dad, you may want to read something else to your kid besides Clifford the Big Red Dog... for the eleventh time. (“Get it? He’s big! And he’s red!”) Since you’re going to spend this time with your child — and you are, aren’t you? — you might as well have fun.

13 comments:

Emy said...

I still think neat and clean houses are overrated. Like, the kind where you walk in and it looks like a museum? Why would you want to live where you can't touch anything? Of course, that's just my opinion. :O

And hi. :)

Bryan said...

I can't believe there is a book about a farting dog. How cool is that author?

They say reading to a baby before it is born is a good practice. Now I know where to start!

Kimo said...

Being in a reading group really helps to make time for reading. I'm not talking about a stuffy, "oh Nancy, I love that big word on page 327" type of reading group, but just a group of friends who get together after having read the same book. I've been doing this for the past 5 years or so, and, much to my amazement, have only taken a "buy" on about 5 books total. A couple of things I've learned about a successful book group:
1. 4 or 5 people is a good number. More than that and it's impossible to coordinate schedules
2. Pick the books ahead of time. We have one meeting a year when we pick books. Everyone brings some suggestions and we just pick out of a hat. We never read the current super-new book, but this way we can get them from the library or a used bookstore
3. Don't expect to spend the whole get-together talking about the book. For me, it's more an excuse to make time for reading (Pam's soooo right about this) and getting together with friends I wouldn't normally see too frequently.

guile said...

atonement.. i just love that book by ian mcewan :)..

Camille said...

I love your comment: you don't find time to read, you make time to read. That is a great truth.

Lazy cow said...

Excellent idea (I came here via Girl Detective). I'm trying to do the same sort of thing. I adore reading the 'serious' book bloggers, and admire their wonderful reviews, but a lot of the books they read are way over my head. It's nice to know they're out there though.

K said...

I just read your list of 100 things about you. I think we're the same person. Scary.
K

julie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
julie said...

This has little to do with your point, which is well taken, but you mentioned one book that I actually read recently. This gets me excited, because I am not a reader in any serious sense of the word. The book is Atonement, by McEwan. (You needed to get to page 21.) I even went on to read McEwan's Amsterdam.

Maybe it's just that any book about human vanities and foibles interests me, but I think you should give McEwan a second chance. If I can read him, anyone can. (When selecting a picture book, I look for the most pictures and the fewest words, and my blog is 99% word-free.)

Anyway, keep up the good work, and many thanks.

MotherReader said...

Julie, Thanks for the good word on Attonement. I know it is a good book, but I could not get into it. But I will try again. Maybe someday when my head is clearer, you know, like in ten years when my kids are grown. Thanks for reading and blogging about lovely illustrations.

teachergirl said...

Thank you so much. The Lovely Bones was absolute horror. No redeeming qualities. Bitter is the New Black and its companion Bright Lights, Big Ass? Fabulously funny. I have let my children eat cereal for breakfast while I finished a novel. Read Walter the Farting Dog to a bunch of 7th graders and see what happens.

teachergirl said...

Cereal for dinner.... I meant, cereal for dinner.

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