I believe a shared love for good books deepens relationships. In “My Daughter-Who-Doesn’t-Like-To-Read” I explain:
“Thumbing through an old journal, my eyes landed on a paragraph. In black pen, I’d scrawled, “My mind is spinning. She told me this morning that she doesn’t like to read for fun. Fiction, novels, mysteries—no, she’d rather be writing. A sobering confession. I tried not to lecture her.” She, our barely 13-year-old daughter, the other female in the family. I felt the same raw emotion as when I first wrote the entry, though four years had passed.
Even so, I understand her words differently now. I have come to refer to them as The Great Contradiction.
In 1998 I started my journey as a mother. Since I had been the quintessential bookworm in my 1970s youth, my determination to pass on a love for reading was as strong as Nancy Drew’s dogged perseverance in solving mysteries. School was an hour-long bus ride away and my earliest character obsessions were amateur detective Nancy and her buddies Bess and George. I read on the long ride to school and back, which resulted in my devouring one mystery per week as a third grader. As a parent, I wanted my daughter to feel the same enjoyment at being utterly enveloped by a story.
I’ve also always loved the ease with which good stories communicate truth and beauty, and I longed for my daughter to share that love. I pictured us walking in tandem in our mutual appreciation for reading, unpacking plots and characters for each other as we bonded in conversation. She would live vicariously through characters who would broaden her world, and they would teach her important life lessons better than I ever could. Like opening up a secret tunnel, reading would be my path into her life just as it would be her path to healthy adulthood.
Reality rarely squares with theory, let alone with dreams of what comes next. Somehow, for all my best efforts, I wasn’t raising a daughter who loved to read. Nevertheless, I was deeply grateful she felt safe enough to speak her mind.
Secure, she could tell me she didn’t like to read, crushing my hopes. Secure, she could hurl her dart at me, and though it found its mark, I knew that her declaration didn’t completely square with reality.”