Recently I had an assignment for grad school that asked us to reflect on who we are as readers. At the beginning of the course, we created visual representations of how we came to literacy, and the results of the exercise surprised me. Rather than solely focusing on books I enjoyed or to which I could relate, I remembered books that were read to me aloud, books that were integral to my relationships with others.
Who are you as a reader? Here’s an excerpt from my little essay. What we choose to read and what we remember about reading can provide an insight into who we are, and I think it’s fascinating. Would love to hear your thoughts on who you are as a reader, what you enjoy reading, and how you came to literacy. Happy reading, everyone! Book recommendations are always welcome too. lv, molly
When I look at my drawing from earlier in the week, I see books and letters and poetry, but I also see names, places, and coffee cups. Next to Go Dog Go appears a rocking chair and my overweight grandfather with his unfashionable glasses; along side The Art of French Cooking appears a pot of boiling water and my mother; adjacent to A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man sit two cups of coffee and a stick figure drawing of my dad. These drawings provoked a thought I’d never lent much credence: reading is as much a social activity as a solitary endeavor.
Plenty of books have caused paradigm shifts in my thinking, but few have been integral to my relationships with others. The books that were important in connecting with others remain fresh in my memory and sit on the top shelf of my bookshelf, so that I can revisit them with ease during nights when sleep evades me.
I see myself as a social reader– one who enjoys the sound of someone reading aloud, for whom context is important (I like a dimly lit room, even if it’s bad for your eyes), and who enjoys the connections books can help us create with others. I realized that this is the framework through which I view text and its significance in the world. Literature and Joyce’s novels in particular helped me see worlds beyond my own, understand how sentence structure and diction influence tone, and connect with my father. Cookbooks imparted a practical skill, and they provided an occasion for me to learn from my mother. Children’s books instilled confidence in my ability to read, and they enriched those evenings when my grandparents babysat me.