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Posts tagged ‘Childhood Memories’

Thoughts on Reading

I know I’m preaching to the choir here…

We all know the importance, the joy, and benefits of reading. But still there are people who don’t do it. I remember learning (from some source I can’t recall) that most people only read one book a year. My aunt, who is a professor, says that her students don’t read. Not the news, not books, not even magazines.

I guess I am lucky I come from a family of readers. I remember my mom having a tower of books next to her and my father’s bed. My dad was a comic book lover and still has a bunch of Conan comics somewhere in their house. Also, for years my parents were faithful subscribers to the Washington Post. Even now, they will still buy a Sunday paper and read on a lazy afternoon.

My grandmother was also a professor (psychology) and a big reader. After her death, my mother and I combed through her bookshelves taking many of the books she collected over the years. There wasn’t any pattern to her collection, only things she had bought because she liked them. My mom told me my grandmother had a knack for leaving her paperbacks at the bus station after she had read them. She wanted to give books away to anyone who would want them.

During that clean out, I was to lucky recipient of a fabulous gift. My grandmother had gotten Gwendolyn Brooks to sign her chapbook.

My mom: “You should have it.”
Me: “Really?”
My mom: “Yes. You’re the writer. I think it is best that you take it.”

The rest of the family agreed and now it is one of my favorite literature pieces. One day I will have to properly frame it.

Brooks Pic

So you see how weird it is to me that there are some who don’t read.

But I think there is hope. The emergence of cheap (or even free) e-books is a blessing. I don’t buy what those reports say about e-book sales slowing. There are a lot of writers who are putting out books with no ISBN numbers and they don’t get counted. Plus, what about people like me who frequent used bookstores? I don’t buy a lot of new books, preferring instead to read a lot of older books that I missed. I read maybe 5-6 new books a year out of the twenty or so that I read. So far I’ve only read 2 (in the middle of my 3rd right now.)

Plus, I live in a good area for reading. There are lots of indie and chain bookstores, a large literate public who celebrate books, and demand from that community. I’m sure there are other places that aren’t as nice (but they can be).

So cheap books and a good environment do go a long way towards getting more people to read. Sure there are some who will never do it. For them music or movies are what get them excited. I’ve known a few people who see all the indie movies and don’t understand why more people don’t watch those instead of the latest superhero flick. Or that friend who detests the radio and listens to obscure bands with gusto.

But those who are like me, someone who likes movies, TV, and music, but connects best with books, reading will always be important. The stories connects over the decades and the story you love may be a story your kids love too. My aunt (in her sixties) and I love Sanderson and were gushing over Shadow of Self yesterday. These connections are so precious.

I wish more people understood that about reading. It’s not a chore, or punishment to read. Not all books are boring or long winded. Maybe you’ll never love the classics, but hey that latest mystery has got your name all over it.

Here’s my reading pile. I can’t wait to dive in.

Atwood & Galbraith

The Day I Sold My Childhood Violin

Sheet Music


Today, I put my childhood violin up for consignment. Since the early 00’s, I’ve been lugging it from apartment to apartment. Once in a while I would open the case to make sure it wasn’t broken. I didn’t play it, but it was a part of me. The feelings were the same as the ones I held for my old pointe shoes. Both were such a part of my childhood that getting rid of them seemed unthinkable. Why would I get rid of a part of my childhood?

Then a few weeks ago, I was digging through my cedar chest looking for a purse, when I realized that I still had my violin, hadn’t played it, and wouldn’t miss it if I got rid of it. Truthfully, I even felt a little guilty because it was a beautiful instrument, probably Japanese made, that was at least fifty years old. And it just sat in my storage chest, collecting dust. I thought the violin deserved to be with someone who would use it, enjoy it, as I had.

I started playing when I was ten. I remember asking my mom, if I could start lessons, and she encouraged me. She had played as a kid and so had her father. My dad wasn’t musically inclined, but he like the idea of his daughter playing the “fiddle”. So, for the next ten years I played.

In school, I didn’t work on the newspaper or hang out with the theater kids. I was a music girl. I played in orchestra and was a flag girl for the marching band. Violin, along with dance (mostly ballet), was my creative outlet. I did write stories, but that was in secret. My writing was a private affair. But music became a wonderful outlet too. I knew I would never be a famous concert violinist, but being a part of a creative community was very fulfilling. We would laugh and joke in class. I hummed classical music, along with the pop songs of the day. I can’t really explain it, but there was something magical about drawing my bow against the strings and hearing a wonderful melody of a song. It was fun and became an area that I could focus myself. (And yeah, it saddens me that music programs are being cut. They add so much to a school experience.)

As I got older, my interest in playing waned. I took a few classes in college, but once I got deeper in my English major, the violin went into storage and floundered there for the next 17 years. Until I took it to the shop today. The same shop my parents went to and bought it for me. The owner even had the original receipt, which he kindly photocopied so I could show my mother. As I filled out the paperwork to consign the violin, one of the shop workers teased me.

Are you sure you want to sell?” Her voice was soft, like she was asking me if I wanted to end an intimate relationship.

Yes,” I said firmly. “I want it to go to someone who will love it and play it.”

Perhaps one day, in another 17 years, I will want to play again. I still set aside one pre-programmed button in my car for the classical station. I flip over every now and then when I want to get my Beethoven on. I still love live concerts and wish I went to more of them. But for now, I am content to be a listener, not a player.

I didn’t feel any sadness leaving my violin in the store. If there is one emotion I could pinpoint, it would be nostalgia. I even took a drive by my childhood home, just because I was in the neighborhood. But there was no regret, no pang of wanting my instrument back. I had loved it and let it go. Now it was time for someone else to love this violin. Maybe they will find a group of odd misfits that love Mozart, or maybe it will be a senior citizen who played as a child and wants to rekindle that love. Who ever gets it will be lucky. I think the violin is filled with positive energy. I should know. It’s from me.