Penny ponders: Buried in a book

By Penny Cliff Guest Columnist

March 29, 2014

I love books! If only we had more than one lifetime. There just isn’t enough time to read everything I want to read. I remember a time I was embarrassed to declare my love of books. It was one of those ice breaker times in ninth grade when everyone had to share about themselves. The teacher would start at one side of the room, and I’d think, “What am I going to say?” All those years ago, the ice breaker question was invariably, “Share about yourself; what do you love to do?” My only hobbies were reading and sometimes writing poetry. I was prepared even though I hated to speak out loud. But then it happened. Student after student shared these amazing, exciting hobbies. Like skydiving. Not really, but they just seemed out of this world, and nobody, absolutely nobody, said reading. I thought as each student told about this or that fantastic hobby, maybe someone would say, “reading.” Come on! Anyone? Not a one. My stomach fell and I felt like the most boring person in the room. My turn. I remember mumbling, “I like to read,” with my cheeks reddening as if I had said something wrong.

I always have and I always will love to read. A favorite treat for me is to snuggle in our soft recliner, with fuzzy socks (preferably pink), and a warm blanket, a hot cup of tea and to get lost in a good book. I don’t get to do that as much anymore.

I read more than I used to, and less than I used to. More, because I teach a night class and want to learn as much as I can to share with my students. (In the wee hours of the morning a weekend ago I read three small books on Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun and Hannibal. Currently, I am halfway through a book on the persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire. Fascinating, but not exactly a lose yourself in the story type book.) And I read less, because I don’t have as much time to read books just for the pure joy of it.

Books speak to me. Whether children’s books, biographies, fiction, non-fiction, there is always something to learn, to chew on, or stay up to the early hours of the morning because I can’t put the book down. The 1986 children’s book, I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch was a staple in my children’s library. And I don’t think that there has been a time when I haven’t had tears rolling down my face when reading the last page.

Of course, I grew up with Dr. Seuss and all of my children feasted on a library of Seussims such as: “Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham!” Reading these books invariable led to the creation of green scrambled eggs with the kids.

Then there are books that are so good, that I have to look up the author and find out about the person who had such insight into whatever the book is about. About a year ago, I emailed on author and got a reply that very same day! And the author told me about his life, what he was doing, the classes he spoke to. I did suggest that if he were in Upson County, to visit our schools.

Then with books there are always THE quotes. Classic quotes such as: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Or, “Not all those who wander are lost,” from J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring. This quote will always be one of my favorites from moving so much during my life. I do love Tolkien. As a child, I’d smuggle a flashlight and Lord of the Rings in my room. I paid for those school night book adventures.

Dr. Seuss sums the joy of reading: “The more that you read, the more things that you know, the more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” And I plan on going on many more adventures.