Monthly Archives: October 2018

Reading Out loud with Children

Before I even got pregnant, I knew that I was going to read to my child regularly. It would be a habit to encourage a love of reading. This was important to me. Since I was a bibliophile, I wanted my child to be one too.

Then the magical day came when my daughter was born. Even as a newborn baby, I read to her regularly. It felt silly at first because honestly, she loved to chew on the books more than listen to the story. But as she grew, she really came to appreciate our reading sessions more and more. She is now to the point where she can’t go to bed unless she gets a couple of books (or chapters) in each night. Sometimes I read to her, sometimes she reads to me, and sometimes we’ll alternate who reads which chapter. As a lover of books, this warms my heart!

But now the question becomes: when (if at all in her childhood) does this ritual end?  She’s 8 years old right now and obviously still loves reading with either me or my husband. And I honestly don’t have any plans on stopping our nightly routine. But I’m assuming there will come a time when she would prefer to read without one of us by her side. This will be a day that I’m dreading.

I remember listening to a podcast a while back and heard the host mention that she and her teenage daughter still read nightly together out loud. This surprised me. My mother stopped reading to me when I was about 3. I know, it was probably too young. But this was the 80s and the woman had stuff to do. I’m not judging her.

Obviously, I would love it if my daughter wanted to read with me every night as a teenager, but I know that’s not likely to happen. (Trust me, I used to be a teenager and I can remember not wanting to do anything with my parents, least of all, read with them.)

I’m curious to know when most children prefer to just read independently and not with mom or dad. Is there a typical age for this? When did your child feel that he or she was too old to be read to?

For my daughter, I hope this isn’t for at least another several years.

2018 Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show

This afternoon, Rockville hosted its annual antique car show which featured over 500 classic and antique cars. I’m not much of a car fan, but my 8 year old daughter loves looking at the antiques (she’s very much like her grandfather in this way). Of course I took her to the car show and we were both amazed by the beautiful, fascinating, and often unique cars. And although this has nothing to do with books, I figured I’d feature some of the pictures on my blog as a random, but fun post. I hope you enjoy!

Is it ever okay to hate a literary classic?

I had a very interesting conversation with my aunt about Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Here’s a confession: I always hated that book. My aunt asked “How can you have an English degree and hate Pride and Prejudice?” Good question. How can I not like something that has been loved by millions of people around the world? Something that has consistently been named one of the most beloved classics of all time?

Frankly, I found it dull and boring. I realize that by admitting this, I come off as uneducated and classless. And I really hope you don’t think that of me. But I can’t for the life of me bring myself to like this book.

Don’t get me wrong… there are many classics that I completely fell in love with. “The Great Gatsby” is by far one of my favorites. I felt like I could identify with Jay Gatsby and his need for belonging. I remember in college I devoured everything by Shakespeare and I loved the Bronte sisters. There were so many books that I felt a deep connection with. In fact, I think that’s why I chose to major in English in the first place. So it’s not like I didn’t like classics, I just didn’t like “Pride and Prejudice.”

So this brings me to my question: Is it ever okay to hate a classic?

Here’s my best answer: yes. I think it is completely unrealistic to  assume that people will love every classic ever written. I’m sure even my fellow English majors would agree. I can remember hearing my peers saying things like “Not Hamlet again!” or “I can’t stand “Wuthering Heights.” Yet, we all survived college and earned our English degrees just the same.

To this day, I’m sorry that Pride and Prejudice never appealed to me. I read the thing twice in an attempt to try and force myself to find something about it that I liked. But in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m sure Jane Austen would forgive me.

 

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh, follows the story of an unnamed protagonist who has decided to take the year off from life by “hibernating.” She uses prescription medications to sleep throughout most of the day in her upscale, New York City apartment. Due to a large inheritance from her recently deceased parents, the main character is settled financially without ever having to work. 

My Year of Rest and RelaxationThis book is more about character development than it is about plot. If you read this book in hopes of finding out what’s going to happen next, you will likely be disappointed. But if you enjoy doing a deep-dive into the thoughts and history of the protagonist, there’s a high possibility that you will enjoy this book as much as I did.

The juiciest parts  are in the details of each character. This is what makes the book as enjoyable as it is. From the misanthropic main character, to the overly demented Dr. Tuttle, to the materialistic and superficial best friend, Reva, the characters are really what drives this book.  

Would I recommend this book to most people? Probably not. But I think anyone who appreciates quirky characters and dry humor would really enjoy it.

Iceland: land of… books?

 

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I’ve always been fascinated by Iceland. Not just because of the beautiful landscape and breathtaking waterfalls, but because of its obsession with literature. Yes, you heard that right… Icelanders are crazy about books! With a population of just over 300,000 people, 1 out of every 10 Icelanders is a published author. In fact, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. To a book junkie like myself, I was very impressed!

In June of 2017, my family and I had the privilege of traveling to Iceland and I made it a point to make sure I visit at least one or two bookstores. One such bookstore, called Mal Og Menning, was conveniently located right in Reykjavik, not far from the place we were staying. As I expected, it was packed with people. The store was multilevel and it had a 128specific design, identical to many of the bookstores in Iceland. The main level had the best sellers (including the famous Norse Sagas), the basement level had children’s books and paper products, such as gift-wrap, and the upstairs had a café. It felt very warm and welcoming. If you are lucky enough to visit one of these bookstores be prepared for sticker shock. Books, like almost everything else in Iceland, are expensive.

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Personally, I’m not surprised that the people of Iceland love to read. It’s an incredibly cold country and in the winter months, it’s almost always dark. What else are you going to do? Yes, there’s TV and movies, but when it’s cold and dark out, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up in a warm blanket and getting lost in a good book.

It’s of no wonder that during Christmas, Iceland has its annual “Book Flood,” also known as Jolabokaflod. Between the months of September and November, Iceland has its highest book sales of the year. For decades, the most popular gift to give is a book and it is often presented to the recipient on the 24th of December. That way, people can spend all of Christmas Eve reading. Brilliant, right?

The book culture makes me seriously want to consider moving to Iceland. Well… okay… maybe not. Too cold!