Book Reviews with Alex

(Photo credit: Meg Ryan)

I vividly remember the first time I finished reading a book that kept me enthralled all the way through. Island of Blue Dolphins. Fourth grade. I was sitting on an itchy rug in the corner of the classroom thinking, “Wow. That was amazing… but… now what do I do?”

Then inexperienced in the ways of blogging, book clubs, book reviews, literary criticism, basically any verbal expression of individual reading experience, I simply moved on. Walking brightly over to the classroom library, actually one of those feeble rotating book racks that never got much use, I picked out my next victim. Hatchet. By Gary Paulsen.

As I began to read, I felt strange and not nearly as satisfied. Juana Maria still lingered in my mind. My reading vision was blurred by the world created by Scott O’Dell in Island of Blue Dolphins. After some time, I returned to O’Dell, and while skimming the pages, rediscovered the following passage:

“The morning was fresh from the rain. The smell of the tide pools was strong. Sweet odors came from the wild grasses in the ravines and from the sand plants on the dunes. I sand as I went down the trail to the beach and along the beach to the sandspit. I felt that the day was an omen of good fortune. It was a good day to begin my new home.”

“That’s exactly how I feel,” I thought. Except my morning was fresh with words, the smell of dusty books, and damp odors came from the fading book jackets of the underused rotating book rack. That day was an omen of good fortune for me too. Juana Maria and I were not so different. As I revisited that passage and found a likeness between my life and Juana Maria’s and shared these thoughts with a (somewhat) interested classmate, the feeling of nostalgia for Island of Blue Dolphins dissipated, and I was similarly won over by the wilderness and Brian’s bravery in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. I now knew what I love to do: read and talk. And I haven’t stopped since.

Having graduated with a Master’s degree in English, I am becoming reacquainted with the homesick feeling of reading without bleeding. I miss evaluating a piece of literary work in either an academic setting or the form of a collegiate essay, a practice I have been doing since that wonderful day in fourth grade.

So, my goal is simple: 1. To explore a variety of contemporary poetry and fiction 2. To share the ways in which reading books has altered my vision of the world 3. To avoid the awful feeling of betrayal that accompanies the silence of leaving great books behind.

Japanese fiction writer Haruki Murakami says, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” But I also believe that if you harbor the magical world of reading within yourself, you alone can benefit from new ways of thinking.

- A 

We hope you will join Alex with her monthly book reviews and poems of the week! 

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