I’m a word-nerd

March 24th, 2011

As we grow up and mature, we evolve in many ways. I know I’m very different from the little girl who went to Tree House Preschool and even the self-proclaimed adult who graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.  However, there is one thing about me that has never changed, even since I was a little kid. That one thing is my passion for reading.

I love a good story. Whether it’s a news article, a book, a movie or a play, I’m fascinated by stories. However, there has always been something about reading books that has captured my interest and my imagination above all else. I love that I can be totally enraptured by a good book, lost in the lives and stories of its characters.

If I have a good book, I can literally sit in the middle of a noisy and bustling public place and not hear a sound. I become enthralled in the whole world the author created for me.

Having said this, however, it’s hard for me to describe exactly why I love reading so much. There’s not one particular genre that I gravitate to (although I will say for the most part science fiction is off the table) and there is not one specific author I strictly read.

In fact, I’ve read and equally loved very different stories. Some of my favorites include Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Tim Russert’s autobiography “Big Russ and Me,” the best-selling “Harry Potter” series and Elie Wiesel’s “Night.”

So you can see my slight confusion. Some of these stories are radically different from one another.

I love Harper Lee’s tale which deals with serious issues including crime, racism and stereotypes, all of which we see through the innocent eyes of a precocious child. I will also never forget the heartbreaking recount of Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust experience.

But then again, I can’t tell you the number of hours straight I spent engrossed in the fantastical world of Harry Potter and his friends or the lessons and bits of wisdom Tim Russert incorporated into “Big Russ and Me.”

However, I think I may have nailed down a reason for why I love reading.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened upon a special USA Network ran about its “Character Approved” honorees, people who impact our  society or are agents of change. One of the honorees was author Nicole Krauss.

She’s won laudable awards and recognitions, but it was something she said that stuck with me. She noted that reading is possibly the least passive of arts. Klauss said, “50 percent of reading is the writer and the rest the reader brings herself.”

A writer may describe a setting, a character or a situation, but then leaves it up to readers to interpret or make of it what they will.

As a reader, the writer gives you a story, but exactly what you take from that story is completely up to you. When you’re reading, you’re alone with your imagination even though you have the writer’s words in front of you. I may read something differently than you do, and to me, that is the beauty of reading.

I sometimes take stories and I make them my own or think about them in terms of my own life. When I was younger and reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the first time, I imagined myself having the same integrity as Atticus Finch. I’ve also wondered if I’d have the strength to survive the same things Elie Wiesel has. Occasionally, I’ve imagined different endings for some of the books that had conclusions I disagreed with.

I know I will continue to evolve as a person. I think personal evolution in inevitable. We can’t help but change with our experiences and the people we meet and come to know, but I think reading will always be something I love. Hopefully, some things never change.