I'm a reader -- always have been, always will. At age three, I brought a Reader's Digest to my mom, and read a random page aloud to her. Correctly. She was only slightly surprised, because I was the kid who, when asked to choose a story at bedtime, would stack up a pile of books as tall as the rocking chair. And expect the chosen adult to get through every last book before finally tucking my sleepy body into the big bed in the little sloped-ceiling room at the top of the stairs in my grandmother's house.
I consumed Nancy Drew books by the dozen, finished all the Bobsey twins books before my 8th birthday, and grew tired of Babysitter's Club before I really aged out of them. I dug through boxes in my grandmother's garage and found her old Marjorie Dean books. (I should have kept those -- they're probably worth something now -- published in the 1920s, pretty good condition. Maybe there in my mom's basement?)
Then I found Anne Shirley, and totally had a crush on Gilbert Blythe. Rebecca was a revelation to me, and Jane Eyre rocked my twelve-year-old world. But so did The Hobbit and the whole Terry Brooks Shannara series. James Michener's Hawaii expanded my 14-year-old worldview and fueled my drive to explore the planet. My reading appetite was voracious, and I read everything my wise and wonderful mother threw in my path.
The trend has continued. Even now, with my extremely busy, harried, crazy life, I find a way to read a couple of books a week. My tastes run the gamut: literary fiction, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, memoir, biography, creative non-fiction, cookbooks, poetry, scientific treatises, history, philosophy, and political theory. But lately I have found myself dissatisfied with what's left. I've begun to think I've already read all the good ones.
Once, at the library, I decided to just start with "A". I selected 10 or so books from the first shelf of fiction and took them home, excited to discover some new authors and broaden my literary horizons. The experiment failed, because of those 10 books, 9 of them were absolute drivel. I have found myself, more and more, skipping to the back to find out how the plot resolves, and tossing the book aside because I have better things to do with my time. I am more and more critical of the things I'm reading -- and I don't just mean about plot, although there are some published works out there with some serious plot problems. I'm talking about style, word choice, flow -- and I find myself saying things like, "I could do better."
Wait! Did I just type that?!? Is this what it has come down to? Could I do better? Well, I'm not sure, but the time has come for me to try. I have an idea, and I have a plan, and in the meantime, blog land will continue to be my place to try out ideas, fiddle with my own style and syntax, and scratch the publishing itch while I'm working on something Real.
I'll always be reading, though. Provided I can find something worthwhile to endow with my time. Any suggestions? Go ahead. Hit me with your best shot! I will warn you: I am extremely well-read. It may be a challenge for you to come up with something I haven't already seen. I am also extremely hard to please. So don't be offended if I totally shoot down your Most Favorite Book Ever In The Entire Universe. (Cough, cough. Goose Girl. Cough, cough.)
How about it, readers? Are you up to the double challenge of finding something that not only have I not read, but that I will enjoy? It's tough, I know. But please. My brain thanks you in advance. (And while we're at it, can you throw in some recommendations for children's books, too? I am so tired of preschool morality tales! What happened to a rip-roaring good story? Please leave the moralizing to real-life applications!)