Here's a list of the two kinds of people in the world:
- People who like lists
- People who don't
As a member of the first group, I'm continuing to putter away on my grand list project, my bite-off-almost-more-than-you-can-chew book recommendations list.
The list is now called "266 Books by Genre." The number keeps changing!
The list started when my son decided at age ten or 11 that he didn't like to read. As an inveterate reader and bibliophile, this consternated me deeply—how do you learn about the world if you don't read? Books are where you find most of what humans know, and have learned, and have thought; they are where, mostly, the great glorious life of the mind resides.
So, taking a cue from our epic read-aloud traversal of the Harry Potter series when my fine lad was in single digits, I got a bright idea. I figured I'd just pick a bunch of the best books I know for finding out about the world, and read them aloud to him. Who says you can only read aloud to little kids? I was influenced by my off-the-grid friends Jim and Becky, who continued to read aloud to their daughter Lillian until well after the time when she could just as easily read aloud to them. (Their family might still read aloud together when she's home from college, I don't know.)
Jim and I were in the same 5th grade class at Bayside Elementary School, where we "hated" our teacher, a certain Mrs. Memmel. (She had firm favorites, and fairness was not a big point with her). But nemesis Mrs. Memmel did me one big solid, I think. For an hour a day she would read aloud to the class and have us follow along in our own books. It was there I heard how all the punctuation marks sounded. I've been visual since birth, and all my life had loved books for pictures; but fifth grade was when books really came alive for me—when type began to speak.
My project of reading aloud to Zander didn't last very long...about three chapters into an ornate translation of The Three Musketeers, to be precise. That is one difficult book to read aloud, and neither one of us were enjoying it much. In any event he had already discovered video games, then, as now, his favorite pastime. My reading put him to sleep, but I wasn't sure how much he was getting out of it. It seemed tiresome to me too. We stopped.
But I'd already succumbed to the danger ahead: I had started thinking about which books would be worth reading aloud to him...and by extension which books would be worth reading if you could only read a few...