Monday, September 10, 2007

My History with Books and Words: Written for ELang 410R

I’ve loved writing and reading for my entire existence. My first memory involves me holding a pencil. I’m a three-year-old sitting at the kitchen table asking my mom to draw out my name in dotted lines “just one more time—one more time…!” I loved to trace my name and any other words I could get my mom to print for me.
I learned to read before I was in kindergarten. I don’t remember anyone even reading to me at home or taking time to teach me how. It seems like it was just something I picked up. I remember one particular day standing in line inside the bank. It was before school, (kindergarten didn’t start until noon) and I was running errands with my mom. “Please wait behind the line for the next available teller,” I read off the nearby sign. I remember whipping around to see my mom’s face, waiting for her approval. My mom smiled at me. A lady waiting behind us asked me why I wasn’t in school that day. My mom told her I was only in kindergarten, and school wouldn’t start for a couple of hours. I was more than content with myself.
My mom bought all sorts of books for me when I was younger, and I would spend hours in front of my “book cabinet” reading every book slowly, entirely, and repeatedly. My mom would tell me to take a stack out and bring them over to the couch to sit and read. No way. I liked to sit in the corner, sandwiched between the cabinet and the end table. I preferred to sit as close to the cabinet as possible with books stacked on all sides of me. I would have preferred even more to sit inside the cabinet if I could have fit comfortably.
In tenth grade my friend and I decided to write our own “dictionary.” Whenever we heard cool words we could write them down in this little notebook and try to incorporate them into our everyday language. I’ve never told anyone that before… It sounds even dorkier on paper than it does in my head.
So I’ve always loved reading books and learning new vocabulary. Looking back on the day Barnes and Noble opened in my smallish town, it was probably the second happiest day of my life. I still remember the first time I entered through the big wooden doors. I’m still speechless just thinking about it. I can’t even begin to describe the experience. I still have a hard time heeding my mom’s advice. I never want to take a few books and go sit down. My instinctual desire in a book store is to sit on the ground in front of an appealing bookshelf in the back corner, reading jacket covers and first chapters, and to begin stacking my favorites all around me, boxing myself in. I still haven’t found a way to fit into the shelves.
I have to admit that this is the first time I will be delving into modern fiction though. I’m a sucker for the classics. My favorite fiction novels of all time are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I think I was convinced for a while that the classics were the good literature. All good literature had already been written. I know this isn’t true, and I’m sure that this course will help me to know for a surety. I mostly blame Harry Potter for this though. A good book should not only encompass a good story, but it should also be well written. I stand confidently with this statement after reading book one in the series. I think my favorite genre, if you can even call it a genre, is literary fiction. I love the beauty of language, but hopefully I will branch out during the course of this semester and learn to appreciate other genres as well.

As a side note, I now prefer Borders to Barnes and Noble.


Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I knew that you and I thought alike, because we both think Isaac is great, but I can now tell that it goes even deeper than that. I have always loved to read too. I used to get in trouble at night because I would be reading under the covers with a flashlight until very late, Just ask Grandma Scott. Also, Jane Eyre has always been one of my favorite books (I don't even know how many times I have read it.)Obviously great minds think alike;)

Jen said...

what a weirdo! yah, I did it too... the whole flashlight bit. I got really good at fake-sleeping. I guess we're all a little nerdy at heart! :)