Monday, January 30, 2006

Reader's Journey

Over the last few years, I have had difficulty finding fiction books to read. Maybe I am too picky. Most often, the stories have been vulgar. Explicit descriptions of sex or violence, or foul-mouthed language have turned me off to contemporary literature. In fact, I have read maybe 2-3 fiction books in the last 10 years. Most of my readings have been of predictable non-fiction books, especially in my favorite content areas. I prefer reading about sewing or needlework, business, economics, or history. It was safer.

I love to read fiction. Escaping into a fantasy world for a few hours a day is relaxing, enlightening, or entertaining. Fiction gives me a new perspective, a reprieve from the day’s worries, an expanded vocabulary. Good fiction is something I miss in life and I have become determined to re-introduce myself to the fiction shelf of my local library.

My day job as a fashion designer and small business owner keeps me very busy. My night job is much simpler and more relaxing. I work as a library clerk at my town’s library. Many people in the check-out line comment on the books they are reading. Some people blow me away with the amount of books they read in a week. Others are loyal to a specific genre or author. When patrons asked me for a recommendation, all I could do was stare dumbly. I wanted to be able to recommend something of value.

When I began my journey back to reading, I really had no idea where to start. Mysteries. Romances, Westerns. Sci-Fi. I am not really devoted to any one genre. A good story is good regardless of the setting. I tried a random browse and nothing motivated me to bring it home. Sometimes when all else fails, you have to start at the beginning.

For me, this was starting on the ‘A’ shelf. Yes, that’s right. I started by pulling books off of the ‘A" shelf and looking through them. I brought a few of them home and started trying to read them. The first book was a horribly written romance. Blech! The next was a suspense novel by Joan Aiken titled, The Embroidered Sunset. It held my interest, but the ending was unsatisfying.

Finally, I hit pay dirt. I checked out a book by Bess Streeter Aldrich called Song of Years. The beginning of the story was a bit shaky. After the first chapter it improved and I quickly found myself caught up in the rhythm of the story. I knew how the story would end. It was a bit predictable within two chapters. But the story was compelling anyway. I had to finish it. I have since read two more of her books – all that my library has on the shelf.

As I continue working my way through the ‘A’ shelf, and the rest of the library, I hope to continue discovering forgotten gems of literary merit. This then is my reading journal. Join with me in my journey of learning to love reading again.

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