Now that we've started our school year, more than ever I've come to value the art of reading. Teaching literature to my own boys, to my co-op writing classes, and especially online (I'm teaching a book discussion group on one of my favorite novels, Jane Eyre, starting this week) has shown me how important the reading of quality literature is.
Over the summer, the kids and I have watched a couple of seasons of the British comedy Jeeves and Wooster with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Taken from the Jeeves series of novels and short stories by PG Wodehouse, watching literature come to life has been enjoyable, and even our 15 year old son begged us to wait until he finished dishes so that he could watch tonight's episode with us.
Literature is life come to life. Well-known pastor and translator of The Message, Eugene Peterson, when speaking at the Writer's Symposium by the Sea several years ago, stated that he believes that every pastor should spend the first two years of seminary reading the classics. He explained how reading James Joyce's Ulysses helped him to better deal with his congregation as he read the day-in-a-life of a very ordinary man. He advocates at least the reading of several of Dickens' works for every seminary student as Dickens' realism moves his readers to true pity and compassion and teaches us to value each and every person, no matter their station in life.
Over the summer and into the fall I've been rereading the Anne of Green Gables series by Canadian author LM Montgomery ; currently I'm reading the seventh of the eight books. These books are delightful, and truly, I think they represent the very pinnacle of English prose writing. Ever. LM Montgomery simply writes beautifully and from the heart, and her descriptions of nature are unparalleled in literature. No matter that these books are considered "children's literature"; they are some of the most delightful and masterfully-written books in the history of the English language. And as a Literature major and after earning a Master of Arts in English, I do not state that lightly.
In my Quotation Journal, which I have been keeping for eleven years now, I have a few pages of quotations on the value of reading and literature. I'll share a few with you here:
"What is reading but silent conversation?" ~Walter Savage Landor
"I do not read a book; I hold a conversation with the author." ~Elbert Hubbard
"There are a lot of people like me, people who need books the way they need air." ~Richard Marek
"Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love, and beauty." ~George Bernard Shaw
"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!" ~Henry Ward Beecher
"When I get a little money, I buy books, and if there is any left, I buy food and clothes." ~Erasmus
So enjoy reading, my friends!! I know that I do!