Friday, September 4, 2009

"I read a book," she said

One Sunday many years ago, when I was shaking hands with people leaving church after the service, a woman said to me, "I read a book." I smiled and waited for her to tell me which book she had read or what she had gotten from it, and she could tell I didn't really understand the importance of her statement. "No," she said, "I read a BOOK." And again, as I raised my eyebrows in delight, "I read a book all the way through."

Think about what that must feel like, to tell someone who had read a hundred or two hundred books a year for most of her life, "I read a book." The woman was ecstatic. She was deservedly proud of herself, a school dropout who could now call herself a reader.

She wanted me to know because she had joined my Bible study class only after she was sure I didn't call on people to answer tough questions or ask class members to read aloud. She had quit going to Sunday school because that teacher DID have people read out loud, one after another. If you've ever tried to say some Bible names, you can imagine how daunting that could be for a non-reader. Because I made studying "safe," she had started reading and had now completed a whole book. It was a glorious day.

I don't remember if she ever told me the title of the book, but today I'm thinking about all the lists we book bloggers run across. On a web site for teachers, I found a Lifetime Reading List. There were 91 books on their list, which seems like an odd number. And I started wondering whether there are any books I think we should read.

So tell me, is there a book you think everyone ought to read before they die? Why that book?


Nancy Horner said...

I'd go with the Bible. And, I still haven't come anywhere close to finishing it, myself. I'm signed up under a different identity to load swim photos, but you know . . . bookfool.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I got two comments on Facebook. I'm adding those here in order to make "our list" of books that matter:

(1) Shon

Back in high school we were required to read "The Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. Briefly, it's about a group of young boys who find themselves stranded on an island and it is up to them to find a way to survive. Through trial and error they develop a functioning society. Of course, it isn't long before differing opinions and preferences play catalyst to the destruction of this society. I didn't realize until years later what a metaphor this book is for our current society and how the voice of reason is being drowned out by the cacophony of willful ignorance, greed, and fear. Everyone who felt lost and alone during the years of the Bush Administration should read it!

(2) Jenn

Top of my list is A Prayer for Owen Meany. Right after that would have to be Life of Pi.
I think both are must reads.