Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why I Read by Beth Lisick

About three years ago, we launched an occasional feature in our monthly e-mail newsletter called "Why I Read." We asked authors, mostly local, to answer that seemingly simple question. The replies were as varied as the question allowed: from the quirky (Dave Eggers) to the earnest (Joyce Maynard), from the episodic (T.C. Boyle) to the hilarious (Kim Wong Keltner). It seems as good a time and forum as any to release these brief essays to the larger world, i.e. the vaunted blogosphere.

Here's one of my favorites, from local author Beth Lisick. Beth's a funny writer; her latest book, here, is a hilarious romp through the world of self-help, just out in paperback. She is also the co-host of one of the most pleasant ways to spend an evening in San Francisco: the Porchlight Series. Here's her essay, written for us back in August of 2006.

"My mom says I learned to read when I was four years old. My oldest brother Paul would come home from kindergarten and hold a 'class' for me and my other brother Chris, teaching us what he had learned that day. By the time I went to kindergarten myself, I was really good at reading out loud, and the teacher would let me read Maurice Sendak books to the class. My favorite was Pierre, the boy who didn't care about anything and ended up getting eaten by a lion.

"Then I stopped caring about books for a good long time while I honed my skills at sports and boys. I was a total outdoorsy jock child who would race through whatever books I had to read for school just to put them behind me. This went on for about twenty years. Not very cool, I know. It's embarrassing to admit how many books I technically 'read' that didn't stick with me at all and I like to fantasize about how much smarter I could be right now if only I'd been truly reading that whole time.

"GOOD NEWS. I fell in love with reading again. Finally. It happened a couple years after I started writing and I felt like I was unearthing a lost civilization. You know those ladies who admit to Oprah that they'd never had an orgasm and then start freaking out about how amazing it is, while simultaneously feeling strange and incredulous about the dry spell? That's how I feel. I love you, books. You make me feel like a human." --Beth Lisick
Why do you read?

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