Reading a book still a great pastime

When I was in grade school we used to have reading time in the afternoon.

We could lounge about anywhere in the classroom and read a book of our choice for twenty minutes or so between regular classes. My spot of choice was the back left corner of the room. There was an ugly carpet laid down against the cabinets lining the back wall and various pillows that I could cram into the corner forming a vaguely comfortable wedge of space to read in. One day I must have been reading something really captivating, because I sat down for reading time and when I looked up next my entire class had formed a circle around me and was proceeding with our regularly scheduled science class as I – completely oblivious – read on. I played it cool and scooted next to my closest classmate to follow along on her book, convincing myself that no one had noticed.

It turns out my teacher was amused by my complete immersion into my book and decided to play a little joke on me. I didn’t get in trouble that time – I often did for reading under my desk during other classes – but I did learn to pay a bit more attention during class. While a lot of things have changed since then, I still find myself getting completely lost in books. From the winter months – or May 2 – when I’m stuck inside because of the weather to nice summer days when I lug my books outside, I always enjoy reading.

One of my favorite things is discovering new books. When I was growing up, my best friend’s dad decided that my destiny was to be an author and would frequently get me new books, sometimes just to see how fast I would finish them. That’s how I got to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1998, the year it was first published in the United States. Majoring in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison meant I was exposed to a whole volume of literature every semester that was new to me. Some of it was far less than enjoyable. Like Jane Austen. I do not like Jane Austen. That, however, is a rant that can be saved for another day.

So when a friend recently asked the Facebook world for book recommendations, I had a list ready off the top of my head. As the Copper Country continues to mess with our minds – is it winter? Summer? Is spring actually a season? – my constant is reading. If you are looking for some literary stimuli, my humble suggestions include:

“A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin

They’re human stories in a fantasy world! “A Game of Thrones” is just the first book in a series that currently has five books but is slated to have seven. Pray that Martin, sporting a mop of grey hair, doesn’t die before the final publication. All of the books feature alternating narrative viewpoints by chapter and follow the political upheaval of the fictional kingdom. They are also incredibly long, so be prepared to hunker down for a bit while working your way through the series. HBO has picked up the story with what I believe is an incredibly accurate representation of the story line, but I still suggest reading the books first.

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

The first two pages of this book make me break out in goosebumps every time I reread it. Which is quite frequently. It is another human fantasy book and I won’t even try to describe it except to say that it is poignant, adventurous and one of the most well-written novels I have ever read. Ever.

“Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling

I feel no need to explain myself.

“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller

“The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay

“The Drifters” by James Michener

I could go on forever. Some of the books on my teeming shelf have bindings that are cracked in half because they have been read so often. Many have favorite passages underlined and commented on in the margins. As the weather continues to tease us, I encourage you to curl up under a blanket – and maybe next weekend lay in the sun on a towel – with your favorite book. Or try out a new selection. Or both.