Reflections on Current Reading

It has been quite sometimes since I’ve kept any type of readers’ journal, but I’ve always found them to be enjoyable and worthwhile. They offer me insights into my own reading life that I might otherwise never pick up on. One does not reflect on breathing…it just happens naturally, but perhaps by reflecting on my own reading life I can help my students to become better, more thoughtful readers.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on my current read (WARNING: Potential Spoiler Alert):

I’m currently 82 pages into Dinner with Buddha by Roland Mercullo and I’m finding it difficult to put down. I’m drawn in by the characters and can sense their warmth. I am particularly fond of the childlike Rinpoche. I’m feeling somewhat skeptical of Seese’s “prophetic” dreams, but I’m willing to humor her for the time being. I’m curious to see if or how my thoughts on this will change throughout the novel. So far I think I’m more indulgent than Otto on this front, but still not convinced that this novel will pull off the promised world of peaceful co-existence by the end of its 344 pages. Or is it truly more about the journey they take to get there than the end result? I guess I’m waiting to see just like Otto.

Quotes that have made me think or that I just plain enjoyed, so far:

“You can listen to the skeptical voice and go back to New York and the life you were leading there, or you can see all the awful things that have happened to you as a preparation, a turning over of the soil so it will be ready for a new crop to be planted” (64).

“Feels like you go in circle, yes? Like you come again back on the same place, many times. Same trouble, same thinking. But it’s not true, Otto. Meditation is like a wind here in the middle pushing you up, up. You want to go up in a straight like the rocket but you really go like this, this, how you say?”

“Spring” (65).

“Americans were half-crushed by the passage of time. Our spirits were dampened, twisted, mottled, trimmed. I don’t mean we all turned into semi-humans, but, well, speaking for myself at least, there was some leaching out of the vibrancy, the joy, the faith in my absolute uniqueness, in my claim to part ownership of this earth” (70).

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Childhood Nostalgia: “A little from here makes a little for there.”

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Hiram’s Red Shirt by Mabel Watts and illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia

When I was a little girl I had a favorite book, Hiram’s Red Shirt; I made my mom read this book to me almost every night. Once I learned to read for myself this book stayed on my shelf, and periodically I’d still come back to it just for fun, but eventually, I outgrew it, and it went to live in the attic.

Around the time I graduated from college, Hiram’s Red Shirt came up in conversation. I remember looking for the book among my old things in the attic, but much to my dismay I couldn’t find it. My mom and I searched and search, but to no avail. I was sad, but I figured my copy had been passed down to my little cousins at some point and hopefully someone somewhere was enjoying Hiram’s antics. Meanwhile, we kept our eyes open at yard sales and flea markets, hoping to snag someone else’s old copy.

When my husband and I started dating and eventually moved in together, we worked at combining and sorting through all our individual lives and “stuff” deciding what to let go of and what to keep. One thing I kept was a bunch of kids’ books that I’d found while rummaging through my parents’ attic looking for Hiram, but I lamented to my husband (boyfriend at the time) that I missed Hiram’s Red Shirt and told him how much I’d loved it as a child.

When my next birthday rolled around, my husband surprised me with my much-beloved book. I was so excited to see it again, and I couldn’t believe he’d found a copy, but he had. It was indeed a special gift and one that I’ll cherish always.

Tonight I cracked this book open once again just for fun. Hiram was still there with his red hair doing his farm chores. I wondered what had drawn me to this particular book as a child. Was it the familiar depictions of farm life? Was it that I could understand the comfort of old, well-worn clothes? Or was it just the fact that it was a good story with colorful pictures? I love looking back at the illustrations and thinking, “I remember looking at these pictures over and over again, memorizing every detail.” Whatever it was, Hiram’s Red Shirt still captivates me to this day, and it will always be my favorite children’s’ book.