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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Weekly Reader

Remember The Weekly Reader? No? Perhaps you're too young for that. But I don't know, is it still around? It was, when the Earth was young, a newsletter/catalog for kids, distributed at school to encourage buying books and reading them. It pissed my parents off, as we'd bring it home and start lobbying for books like Ralphie did the air rifle in A Christmas Story. I still have the first book bought from the Weekly Reader when I was in first grade, Three Stories from Winnie the Pooh.

We all grew up with reading habits of varying degree. To this day Billy and I will watch tv, with book in hand, and read during commercials. It annoys spouses, I can tell you.

This week I've been reading The Portable Blake, William Blake's compiled poetry and prose; rereading A Feast for Crows (I didn't seem to absorb it well the first time) by GRR Martin; and The Book of General Ignorance, a sort of QI offshoot-companion.

The last time I read any Blake was in college and what a difference some decades make in one's understanding and reaction. Where his dramatic phrases touched my heart as a teenager, they seem morose and overblown now. I've grown old. He's still good, just a bit hysterically whiny to me. His writings about his artwork are revealing, however. The subtleties I never caught are explained. It's a good read.

The Book of General Ignorance is an unsung treasure. Its purpose is to correct common fallacies that have come to be believed, like the fact that you can't see the Great Wall of China from the moon, or even from space once beyond a few hundred miles, where even the continents aren't visible. It corrects things that were wrongly included as fact in Trivial Pursuit-type games. An interesting geek book, not for everyone.

And A Feast for Crows, on second reading, is just as dense but more accessible. The problem I have with this tome is the density. So many characters that are in the story and then gone, Houses that make an appearance, maybe something pivotal happens because of their action, and you aren't sure if they'll ever be back so you don't invest in them, and then here they are again -wait, who are they and what'd they do? On a second reading it's cohesive and it all sinks in.

The coming weekend being a holiday weekend, I'll get lots of lovely reading time in. Nothing is happening until Monday. There'll be fresh sheets on the bed, cool drinks in the fridge and a fan lazily oscillating while I escape to other lands. And I have a stack of never-reads awaiting me. Heaven.


Anonymous said...

pure bliss

Geo. said...

1st grade? Wow, you were an early reader! I didn't get the hang of it 'til I was 8. But yes, I ordered from Weekly Reader --Ghost stories in 4th grade. "The Phantom Brakeman". Classmates traded books around and we literally wore them to pieces. Good memories, thanks.

sdt said...

While I don't remember where I used to see them, My Weekly Reader and Highlights magazines were both favorites. I remember taking out a sort of classics of the month book club membership. The only title I got that I can remember off hand was Charles Dickens' "The Pickwick Papers". I was about 6 or 7 at the time, and didn't get very far in that one. To this day I've never tried it again, even though I used to really like Dickens.

The Elephant's Child said...

The gift of reading was one that I didn't realise until it was too later to thank my parents. I always have at least two books on the go, and a huge (too big really) stash of unreads which I keep adding to. Perhaps one of the more socially acceptable addictions.

CarrieBoo said...

Roz brings home a Scholastic booklet/flyer every six weeks or so. I have only ordered once, a sight word bingo game and a fun rhyme book. A lot of the stuff in there I find a bit annoying... like, should they really be selling a Barbie series in schools? Ick.

The General Ignorance sounds fascinating. I'll have to remember that one. Be sort of funny, to know the real answer, yet still fail at Trivial Pursuit because they have it wrong. ;)

Lisa said...

Scholastic order forms.... You're great neicely brought one home every 4 weeks from Kindergarten up to 3rd grade. Fourth thru Sixth - the teachers stopped handing them out and if you wanted one, you had to ask for it. There were very few months that went by that we didn't order $50+ in books for her. The big problem was her reading level. The books in Scholastic were well below her reading level. Then twice a year, the school had a Bookworm giveaway. They had all sorts of books sorted into grade/reading level. Each kid in the school got to pick one book in their level - free. The adult volunteers got to pick one, too, if they wanted. Guess who had to get special permission to get an upper level book? :D This is how we ended up with a couple of the Harry Potter books.

Austan said...

Lawless- It is! I can't wait!

Geo.- We all read before school age. Books were our babysitters.

Stevil- You were a lucky one. I got to pick one book a year from Scholastic. The rest of the year it was the library or what we had at home already.

EC- We share that addiction then. And I have no plans to end it, ever. :)

Carrie- Jeez! WTH with allowing all this marketing to kids? Especially BARBIE! ech, pach, ptoouie!

Niecely- No wonder she's a supernerd. :) Damn I wish I could've gotten books every month! I don't think it was broken down to grade levels then. In 4th grade I got The Devil and Daniel Webster from them. It was the "reading modules" in class that were infantile to me. I had to go to a 4th grade class for English when I did 2nd grade in upstate NY. Yes, did, like time in jail. I swear I developed Scarlet Fever that year just to avoid that simpleton school program.