Saturday, November 28, 2009

Loneliness and Books

When I read a good book, one of two things generally happens (and if I'm lucky, both): 1) I gain a new understanding of something or somebody, and 2) I find that I am not as alone as I think. What better way to reach out into the world than to hear somebody else's story? To hear and listen, and bring what you've learned to bear on your own life? To find out that the world---or adventure, or knowledge or faith--is at once larger and closer than you ever imagined?

In her essay, "Up from Elsie Dinsmore", in Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children, Katherine Paterson writes about how the isolation of being a "weird little kid" drove her to seek company in books, and how those books shaped her as a person. I was a shy kid myself, and I made friends in books too, getting to know all sorts of people with whom I would have been too timid to strike up a conversation. In getting acquainted with these people I found out that my fears and thoughts and hopes and dreams were not so strange after all. I found company in every book, met kindred spirits, experienced the world through different eyes, and was challenged to reach beyond myself.

So I'm curious. Were you a reader as a kid, and if so, were books more than just entertainment? What books took you beyond yourself to new ideas or new friends? Do you have the same experience with books as an adult?

3 comments:

  1. Welcome to the blogging world! I did love to read as a kid and my favorites were the Chronicles of Narnia series, Hardy boys and Nancy Drew. I still love to read but I think I do it more as an escape when I'm ready to have a new adventure. I can get lost in a good book and it's hard to put them down!

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  2. Thank you! I'm excited to see where this leads. I love Chronicles of Narnia even more as an adult, and have enjoyed introducing those and Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to our kids. When I was a kid I read all my mom's old Cherry Ames books, too (she solved mysteries, too, but she was a nurse--I thought she was so glamorous!)

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  3. Yes, I was always a reader and still am. They take me away to lands and people I don't experience in day to day life. I have learned many lessons vicariously through reading about others making mistakes and the consequences they suffered. Welcome to blogging! :)

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