Wednesday, March 9, 2011
So what do I mean by reading relationships? It's that connection you have with different people, each on different levels for your shared love of the written word. It's the thoughts you have in your head that go something like this.... "I'm going to tell so and so about THIS book for sure!" or "I wonder what so and so would think of this book." or "I can't wait to discuss this book with so and so!"
When I was little, I'm sure I had a reading relationship with my parents, probably mostly my dad actually. I remember him browsing the library shelves with me and choosing books he thought I'd like. Then my grandpa would always (and stills does sometimes) ask me about what I was reading. He's been a major reading example in my life.
Then I went for years without really any particular reading relationships. I hid it from people. I was busy with little kids. (Perhaps my picture book reading to them was my main relationship at the time!) I had no idea there could be such a thing.
Then came online reading relationships. One of the first things I discovered when we got the internet in our house (and I wish I could remember the exact year for fun sake... I think it was 1995 or 96) was that there were online book groups. Heaven! I discovered other people in the world liked to read! I was still cautious however, I mean this was the scary dangerous internet we're talking about here!
Ten years later, I started attending (and hosting) in real life book clubs. My reading relationships have now hit the real world! So today I bounce between the online and the real life. In the online, I feel like the leaner in the relationship. Bloggers are reading, and reviewing and telling me what's out there and what's good and what I should be reading. Publishers are send me things they hope I read and want me to review. Authors are promoting all sorts of fun and interesting books that I should be reading. Sometimes I listen, and sometimes I don't.
I then take that info and become the teacher (of sorts) to my real life reading buddies... making sure they know what all the great new books are, what everyone's talking about, what authors are cool and writing the cool stuff. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes they don't!
There are certain people who stand out in this reading relationship experience. For instance, my friend Jenny and I have an interesting thing going on. Though we are similar in taste in many ways (love for Markus Zusak and Neal Shusterman and most Victorian classics for example) we are also very VERY different in many ways. This, I feel, makes for a blast of a reading relationship! I never know what she will like or hate. And there's LOTS of books she hates! This is very different from me because I rarely hate any book. So it's fun to try and figure out what each other will like (or hate as the case may be.) She is much more discerning I guess is the word.... than I am... for instance she will bring up so many things that I would never see, and makes me think about a book much more than I normally do. I love that. I, on the other hand, am hoping to get her to embrace the emotions a book brings out, and to try and not judge a book by those emotions. She feels the emotion, but then bases her love or hate on the book according to those emotions. Sometimes anyway. (Jenny you can totally comment and say "Wait WHAT?" to anything I'm saying here!!) Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that our very big differences, along with our similarities, makes our reading relationship really fun and interesting.
There are several other members of my in real life book club where I have interesting relationships according what I know they like. One member hates, and I mean HATES fantasy. We enjoy trying to get her to read it anyway. Another loves fantasy, but HATES nonfiction... we make her read nonfiction now and then! With my mom, I enjoy discussing the "gentle" books of which I posted about earlier. My husband used to be totally against YA and lately, he's learned it's pretty fun and I'm having fun seeing his attitude change just a bit.
It's also fun to have different reading relationships with my kids. Sharing YA romance/dystopian stuff with my teenage daughter. Enjoying some awesome middle grade stuff together with my almost 12 year old daughter. Discovering together things that my 16 year old son might like (and finding out it may not be what you think... like he might enjoy Room much better than Harry Potter!)
You already know, if you read a post or two back, that I've fond a fun reading relationship online with Ibeeeg because of our mutual Wheel of Time quest. I'm sure for us, this is just the beginning of many more connections we'll discover as we continue to talk about our love of reading.
Anyway, I think I could go on and on about all the different connections I have with people because of books and reading. One thing is for certain, I'm very glad I decided a few years ago not to hide this love of books anymore, because these relationships are priceless to me now.
What sort of reading relationships to you have? Do you find yourself more of a teacher? Or a learner? Do you have certain people, online or off, that you especially connect with.. and why? I'd love to hear your thoughts!