Everyone please give a warm welcome to the awesome and hilarious Jennifer Ziegler! Jennifer is the author of Alpha Dog and How Not to Be Popular. She's also the first participant in RAD (Random Author Days).
Come up with an anagram of your name. (It’s okay, it doesn’t have to make sense). "Jeer Grin Zen Life," "Jennie Z. Free Girl," "Zen Jingle Re-Fire," and "JLZ Fire Engineer"
What’s the one thing you don’t like about yourself but can laugh about?
My type-A personality. It asserts itself in strange, inconsistent ways. For example, I will step over a pile of dirty clothes to straighten a stack of magazines on the coffee table.
What is your favorite onomatopoeia? Why?
I love the comic book ones. Like Wham! Bonk! and Oof! Especially "oof." It tells you all you need to know.
And without further ado, the guest blog.
Books: Entertainment or Enriched, Whole-Wheat Bread?
I love books. I know the Book Muncher loves books. Chances are if you are reading this, you also love books. Not everyone does, however.
It always amazes me when I meet a smart, curious, interesting person and at some point in the conversation hear them confess, “I don’t read.” Some will make excuses, such as “I don’t have time” or “I have to read so much at work/school that I don’t feel like doing it for fun.” Still, this baffles me. How can someone never have time for a good book?
I’ve also met several adults who’ve confessed that they didn’t enjoy reading until later in life. Why? I wonder. What turned you off to it when you were younger? After all, there are books to meet everyone’s preferences. There are free books you can check out at a local building. Books are lightweight, portable, and easy to use (open, read page, turn page, repeat last two steps…).
To me, there’s no real reason why every single literate person can’t enjoy reading. It’s like … learning to fly and then using the skill to flutter from building ledge to building ledge instead of soaring high into the skies.
After talking to these latecomer bookworms I discovered that most of them had a rocky first relationship with reading. Unlike me, they didn’t start out with warm, cozy associations with books. They didn’t get giddy at the sight of stuffed library shelves or towering stacks of hardbacks. They didn’t find the smell of printed paper intoxicating. Instead, reading was met with a sense of obligation and dread.
Too often books are presented to young people not as glimpses into wonderful worlds, but as … well … green vegetables. “Read this,” a teacher/parent/friend will say, “because it’s good for you.”
As a former English teacher, I can understand that mindset. Books are very powerful. They can explore difficult themes such as racism, oppression, abuse, disability, class struggle, and suicide in a safe way. They can bring history alive. I’m convinced that books can, and have, saved people. But at the same time, I feel it’s wrong to treat books as medicine.
I don’t pretend to have answers here. Maybe classic novels should be introduced as simply good stories rather than weighty examples of a particular historical period, genre, or theme. Maybe schools should (and most do) provide a wide variety of reading material – including graphic novels, comics, manga, etc.
I do think that young people need to develop their own personal relationship with reading. They need to be given opportunities to explore different genres and mediums, simply for the joy of it – without any worries as to reading level or literary merit. And we should be careful not to make great books sound like brussels sprouts.
Even now I sometimes hear friends say they “ought to” or “should” read a particular buzzed-about book, rather than they “want to” or are “dying to” (my favorite phrase). Or I’ll see a pal reading a paperback romance at the pool and she gets sheepish and embarrassed about it. I even know someone who quit a book club because the novel she suggested was deemed “too lightweight and funny.”
So I ask you, O Great Book Lovers of MySpace: What’s your relationship with reading? Do you see it as a hobby? A mental workout? A necessary, life-giving function?
Do you ever try to force yourself to read a book because it’s considered “important”?
Have you ever felt judged for reading something “light” or “different” or just plain “wrong”?
Please share your thoughts and experiences. In the meantime, I wish everyone happy book bonding. May your reading take you to new heights. Stretch those wings! Soar and explore!
Thanks Jennifer!! It was so fun having you stop by my blog. To learn more about Jennifer Ziegler, or if you just wanna chat with her, check out her website: http://www.jenniferziegler.net/ (where she has one of my favorite book quotes) or her MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/jennziegler. Also, don’t forget to buy and read her awesome books!