When I was in elementary school, we had this program called Parents As Reading Partners (P.A.R.P.). I don’t remember much about it – just that there was this assembly at the end and some guy dressed as Spiderman handing out prizes for kids who’d read the most books with their parents. I probably got a prize (though I don’t remember) because I’ve always been such a competitive psycho I mean winner that even a 1st grade reading contest was no match for Bims. I’m pretty sure Mom was at the assembly with me – maybe she can fill in the details.
About 25 years later, which was coincidentally last month, our friends Fursey and Megan were visiting from the homeland and mentioned that they’d been reading Dracula together, taking turns reading aloud and discussing the book. How cool is that?
Alex and I shamelessly ripped off the idea and started with Catcher In The Rye, a book I probably didn’t pay much attention to in high school (what did I pay attention to back then? I hated it there. Half the time I went in my PJs, and the other half of the time I just didn’t go. I think we covered this in another post. Moving on…) that is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Holden Caulfield’s favorite words are goddamn, feind, and crumby. And the book is teaching us all kinds of new things. For instance, I got to explain to Alex what falsies are, and he got to tell me about foils for fencing. Reading about Holden’s misadventures has also prompted tangential conversations and stories from our own misguided youth.
Before we started, we looked up J.D. Salinger on wikipedia and learned a whole bunch of fascinating stuff about his life, which gave us insight into the characters and story in Catcher in the Rye, making it a much richer experience. You know, Salinger never let the publishers illustrate his book covers because he didn’t want anyone to anyone to have preconceived notions about the characters. I appreciate that – it’s like when you see a music video after thinking you know what a song is about and the video is all cheesy naked chicks and the original meaning of the song is lost forever.
I can’t wait to see what Holden does next. And then we’ll get to pick another book! Reading time has become the part of the evening I most look forward to, second only to coming home to Alex after a long day at work. So feel free to perpetuate the tradition of shameless off-ripping. Grab a spouse (preferably your own; people are so touchy when you grab their spouses!), partner, roommate, or even your mail carrier, pick a good story off the shelf, and read!
This message was brought to you by S.A.R.P (Sarah As Reading Partner). While I encourage you and your reading buddy of choice to drink heartily from the fountain of literature, I will under no circumstances don a spandex Spiderman suit to dole out prizes for the most books read.