FINAL WORDS FROM MARLENE —
What to say, as we attempt to wrap up our time together studying Book History? It’s been an interesting class? I’ve learned so much? My perspective has been broadened? I wish I could have cloned myself so I could have spread out all the reading assignments between the two of me? Well, yes to all of the above, but there’s so much more.
I went back through my class blog entries and came up with this, from some time back:
“I came into this class with this skewed perspective that it was all about me, as a reader; all about what the reader wants, what the reader thinks, how the reader views the content, and that the reader was king. However, after two months of Book History I have come to realize that the literary world does not in fact center on the reader but instead, the center of the literary universe is The Book. There wouldn’t even be readers without The Book’s existence. And The Book could be as rudimentary or complicated as one would like it to be, but its being drives my ability to be a reader. One does not exist without the other; it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship. I just have a much more realistic take on my reality of what being a reader means, now that we have spent so much time deconstructing what The Book is all about.”
That fairly sums things up for me: I began the semester lugging my decades old take on reading with me into 604B but boy oh boy, a funny thing happened on the way to Storm Hall! I had an epiphany of sorts, one that illuminated my thinking on something so valued and such a huge part of my existence: there was so much more to being a reader than text on paper, than my eyes viewing it, and my brain digesting it, and chalking up another book title on my list of “Books I have read in my lifetime.” I learned about the history of books, paper, ink, type, publishers, print shops, forgery, the Communication Circuit, about readers influencing authors, about readers making their own meaning, about ephemera, about the codex, about fixity – okay, I’ll stop, because I will surely use up my 500 words, give or take, just trying to list all the new words, ideas, and concepts that I encountered while taking this class.
Suffice it to say, I am no longer the innocent, youthful, maybe even naïve? reader I was upon entering this classroom back in January. I believe I’ve evolved in these few short months into a more critical thinker, student, book lover, bibliophile – READER!
But in spite of my new found knowledge, for me, things always come back to basics. From the 4-year-old Marlene to the Marlene that shows up every Tuesday to Storm Hall, the unbroken thread, the continuous theme, the consistent trait about me is, simply, that I.LOVE.TO.READ.
Teacher to students returning to school after the long summer break: “What did you do on your summer vacation?” Marlene: “I read.”
Employee to co-workers around the water cooler on Monday morning: “What’d you do this weekend?” Marlene: “I read.”
Potential suitor trying to get my attention: “Hey, you want to meet at Starbucks?” Marlene: “No, I’ve got a book to read.”
Family members asking how my third Hawaiian vacation was. Marlene: “I read a few books.”
What can I say? I just like to read. It’s that simple. Nothing profound; nothing too deep here. I just like to read. It’s just that now I have a deeper understanding about what I’m doing and how I fit into the big picture. My life in books will never be the same. Thank you, Dr. Pressman, and my fellow book lovers.