Monday, June 8, 2015

Are You There God? It's Me, Monday!

(Judy Blume Doll, from UneekDollDesigns)

The remnants of devastation from reading A Little Life are almost out of my system. Thank goodness, because I was beginning to feel a bit haunted!

I did finish two books last week: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott and Here by Richard McGuire. Hopefully I’ll have reviews up for those shortly. I have also started Susan Engel’s The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood – so I’m adding a little bit of nonfictiony sauce on what has otherwise been a spring full of fiction.

I have two other books on my leaning stack for this week. In the I’m-late-to-the-party category, Hilary St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven finally came in from the library. It arrived just as I was finishing A Little Life, but I just couldn’t take on dystopia after reading such a sorrowful novel. I also want to read Euphoria by Lily King. Both of those novels just came out in paperback, so I’ll let you know if they’re good choices for your summer reading plans.

But the big news is that I’m going to go see Judy Blume on Thursday! I can’t explain how giddy this makes me. I have such a visceral memory of reading and re-reading Blubber under my covers in elementary school.  For young readers at that time, it was rare to find the real world of childhood in a book. Blume’s novels allowed me to “get lost” in reading for the first time.

I think that Judy Blume’s books are now seen as “literature,” but I don’t think that was always the case. My memory is that a Judy Blume novel was not something you’d find in a leveled book bin in your classroom or stamped with a seal of high adult regard. I read Judy Blume on my own, somewhat obsessively, furtively.

I keep coming back to Momster’s question about her eleven year old’s summer reading. It’s no secret that reading is good for you, like kale. But this week I started thinking about the kind of books I did read as a child – Judy Blume books included – and I’m guessing that not a single one of them would have fallen on an approved summer reading list.

I have wonderful memories of riding my 3 speed to the drug store to buy paperback books. Crappy paperbacks! They cost a couple of bucks and were maybe 200 pages long. If I had a friend with me, we’d each buy one and then trade.

Here’s one that I remember reading:

(Did boys look like that in your school?? Gah! Chest hair! I’m thinking that he may have been held back…)

I’m fairly sure that my mother didn’t puff up with pride at this particular reading selection. I’m also certain that the books I picked weren’t aligned with my reading level.  In short, they weren’t kale. But oh, did I read like crazy! I wonder if I became such a good reader – and more importantly, someone who LOVES reading – because adults and their agendas stayed out of it.
Judy Blume is in her 70s now. I know that she’ll have an audience of nostalgic middle aged groupies – grown-ups whose memories of summer reading do not include sticker charts and incentive plans and progress toward higher scores on next fall’s Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment.

And YES, I most certainly plan to read Blume’s new novel for adults, In The Unlikely Event. I'm guessing I won't be able to get it for $2 at the drugstore, however. 

(It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey. I'm winging it while she's on hiatus)

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