Louanne Noel

Louanne Noel is the director of the Boyce Ditto Public Library in Mineral Wells.

So you are committed to the idea that you are a book hater or you just hate books and reading! I will start defending the idea that there are no people who hate books, only those who are incredibly convicted they do and for good reasons.

The reality is that most of them have not found the right book yet. All types of reasons exist to justify the lack of love for books and they are not without merit. Reading is not easy for many because it is a decoding activity and, yes, skill. And all of our brains work differently. We are all made equally in the sight of our Maker but reading can be one of those activities that is a social divider among us. It too often decides the path we take in life, rather than us deciding for ourselves based on that awareness and what we then deem and value both equitable in life and important to succeed for the rest of our long lives. Some of us have to work much harder at this decoding exercise, realizing life is rarely fair, but the reality is most of us can eventually do it with commitment. Having said that, this certainly does not lead to a path that justifies people telling their children that reading is fun and for those very same reasons we do not show them ourselves that reading is fun! Having said that, many reasons do exist to justify making reading as fun as possible and particularly for kids.

I acknowledge myself I am mostly not a fiction reader. I have an all-encompassing knowledge to know about the world and to manage my professional world so I tend to gravitate toward books that help me understand my issues, my environment and the phenomenon happening around me and this strange world.

I cannot myself imagine trying to cope in a world without this ability to make decisions in an informed manner because our world is erratic and rapidly changing and the pulse we use to manage ideas has a shelf life so we must all consistently be open-minded and re-evaluate a truth barometer.

I find reading about complicated ideas by world thinkers to be helpful to negotiate our current state of existence rather than relying solely on my environmental and emotional senses because this is one small yet important piece of a much larger phenomenon. While this is my overall tendency, I do; however, meet exemplary authors whose fiction works defy my ability to understand their gift for writing about the world and our human condition. And for me, it is this reading that is soul-fulfilling and indeed starkly recreational. The movie genres you view are only a microcosm of the reading genres and sub-genres that belong to the reader’s universe. I always hope for all of us to be high-minded but I am also yet reminded that those who read for every-day, every-man humor are also those who understand and appreciate everyday life while giving it a proper perspective and relegating most of what we encounter to the small in this great universe. And that is an imperative ability to achieve real mindfulness, peace in life and the lightness of just being.

Still, we should all be able to achieve the luxury of thinking of reading material to be a fun recreational activity. In point of fact, I have never seen a person who read or listened to a Janet Evanovich book be able to fully avoid at least a tongue-in-cheek chuckle while reading her.

I have seen the driest of personalities read her on planes and watch their blank neutral faces project into the most splendid dancing eyes and bemused mouths. Most of us, when reading for pure humor devour her works because they spin reliable scenarios that guarantee that moment you choke while avoiding ejecting the milk.

It is true that whether on a plane, whether you are sane, whether folks think you are smart or whether folks think you are not, people all seem to love reading Janet Evanovich! As I worthy side note, I cannot tell you the numbers of truck drivers I have checked her works out to who claim she delights them for many hours, spinning ordinary yet comical characters and scenarios. And I love the idea that our truck drivers are finding such a pleasant pastime in her stories while they are delivering freight across this country. We should all thank Ms. Evanovich!

I do not apologize for my position that the library is here to soberly embrace literacy of every type at every level. In this way, we compliment the missions of our beloved schools. One of the most essential missions of school is teaching children reading proficiency and it is not the library’s role to duplicate their role; however, we strive heartily to help others who have not been properly introduced to reading to understand the idea that reading can be educational while also being fun.

While it is nice if schools make education and reading fun, it cannot always be. Although in an ideal world, we should give this more thought if we want to rear children who become devoted as adults to the idea that reading is fun. I believe, as most do, that the idea of discipline as a path to success is profoundly imperative but reading, choosing a lifetime of reading beyond the mastery of the skill…this in itself should absolutely not require discipline. As librarians, we should always be providing the inspiration so that this does not require discipline.

I have never heard anyone in my life utter the words, “I hate Dr. Seuss!” And we would mostly deem them the worst type of non-conformists if they did. The reasons are endless why we love the work of Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss introduced our first love of reading that we can remember. Boys and girls alike love Dr. Seuss because of the absurdity and the poetry, the rhythm and the ingenuity of what can ensue from pure zaniness. We all embraced the idea that nonsensical words on a page could yet unleash ingenious positive power.

Yes, our parents read us Beatrix Potter from the time we were in the crib and were hearing how a spry little rabbit named Peter with purely unbound energy, both audacious and cheeky, managed to escape all manner of present danger and escape to his warm bed nightly. And we love everything about Beatrix Potter’s stories, her simple tales, her life lessons for kids and her love of life through wildlife illustrations.

Indeed, a time exists when almost all of us did not just like reading but it was loved in our hearts and heads. A time exists when we had the audacity of imagination and were unabashed by the intimidation of performing to standard code. My message this month is there is every reason to still love reading ya’ll!

And for you who proudly deem yourselves as book haters, those who hate books, those who never darken the door of an “educational” institution, vowing it would then constitute a sinful hypocrisy or a total abdication of who you are, you should know that, at this library, the staff all know this deep secret you carry. There was once a time when you liked books whether it was the many Dr. Seuss antics or the tomfoolery of “Curious George”. We all love their many tumultuous antics and fiascos and most of us have a deep soft warm spot for Beatrix Potter and her meticulously quaint tidy stories about the varying nature of comfort, life and love.

And the mere audacity of time also states that we all still find that childlike humor and love of Dr. Seuss, Curious George and Beatrix Potter. I dare say that if we preserved the heart of contemporary America in a bottle through books we chose, it would contain King James Bible, a copy of Beatrix Potter’s, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and yes, the absurdly ironic importance of Dr. Seuss. These illustrate the heart of America at our rawest in that place where we all live and share the same feelings and we hope we all have the same birth experiences regardless of social status.

My message this month is to tell you reading is rarely supposed to be an intellectual exercise. It is supposed to be a practical one and a recreational one and hopefully an inspirational one. The best reading, the most fulfilling reading, the most inspirational, the most comedic, that reading can be found at any age, the reading that speaks personally to your life situation, age, status, with books such as, “Are you there God, It’s Me Margaret.”

Reading is not supposed to be a hated and feared exercise and it is also more often supposed to be a therapeutic one, what we call “bibliotherapy.” And as its finest, it is supposed to be an exercise precisely of fulfillment where we can quietly reflect on how we feel and what is dearest to our own hearts in a particular place and time and know that somewhere at least someone has experienced those same emotions equally too.

Dr. Seuss rightly found his place in our hearts and in the American social fabric. He said this message in the simplest terms without preaching while teaching. Learning and reading is fun and he did this without us knowing what the words phonics or sight words even meant. And the beauty of Seuss was we did not have to know. We just had to simply know that we liked one Dr. Seuss book to yet go and find another one.

It isn’t always that simple for everyone to find your book but it is my personal promise to you that finding a book you love is much simpler than you would ever imagine and the mere act of reading allows you to explore and sharpen your own ability to articulate what you expect from your next book.

When Eric Carle wrote about a little caterpillar in his phenomenal cumulative pop-up book about transformation, his caterpillar ate his way through a week’s worth of food and Carle brilliantly helped children learn about the caterpillar’s life cycle, the days of the week and we saw the beauty and growth cycle helping form our own child’s sense of hunger and wonder about otherness.

I can’t help thinking what a waste it is that all that time ago we all loved “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and parents were able to see so much genius in it while teaching their own children. This book taught counting, the days of the week, seasons of the year and it showed our earliest children that we are positively transformed by the ingredients necessary that create health. No children were intimidated then about its loftiness and impropriety for our hands or minds.

Carle’s book is chock full of ingenuity of ideas such as empty holes on a page that once contained only words on paper but also the ideas of growth, counting and space in time and we were glad of all the wisdom packing a punch in a tiny few words. We should all have that feeling of being glad of heart in its own novelty about any book we choose to read but we should all make the life choice that reading is a pleasant daily life experience for everyone.

From the immortal words of Ranganathan, one of the foremost authorities in library foundations this century.

“Every book its reader”. You see, in libraries there are no judgments about what you do or don’t like to read. That is a self-imposed judgment the narrowest types of education place on us while destroying, not just our sense of self-worth, but also in so doing, also destroying our own sense of self!

We always look forward to serving the unique desires of each of you at your library.

A last happy salutation Silverstein and Seuss-style:

If you liked the TV show "Luther," read “Along Came a Spider”, if you find reading hard, check out our audios instead.

If you like "Dexter," come on over to find him darkly dreaming but off Showtime in your own hands in bed.

If you want to be a reader but feel you aren’t a reading achiever, we can find the best voice for your heart and head.

Be it "Leave it to Beaver", or Lizzie Borden’s Cleaver

Bittersweet, Charming, Deceitful, Disarming,

The eccentric, esoteric

Factual, fiendish or fantastical

Gruesome, Handsome, Judicial, Lame and Laughable

Mysterious, Nefarious, Outrageous, Quirky and Quotable

Regal, Sarcastic, Twisted, Venerable and Virtuous

Words are not weeds, they take root and when planted,

They are sentences, thoughts, transportation and precise poignant glances.

Whether a winking fruitless dalliance is your cup of tea or a cleric murdered while holding an adult spelling bee.

We are a universe disguised in the form of a free store where little more than your own imagination prevents you from the want of more.

… And how many places can you really get that!

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