Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: "The Reading Promise: My Father & The Books We Shared"

The Reading Promise: My Father & The Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
5 out of 5 stars

This is the first of 6 books left over from 2011 that I still wanted to review. It was my second of four 5 star books (non-BSC or rereads) and even though it did have it's faults, I still enjoyed it immensely. Many of the reviews I've seen comment on the fact that the author omits large parts of her life (including her mother's apparent suicide attempt) or that she doesn't really discuss the books that they are reading at the time except for little quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

"To observe attentively is to remember distinctly." -Edgar Allan Poe, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"

I don't think that matters. The author makes her point very clearly: reading is important. "Someday, I will tell my children this story"..."Of how I risked my life for the book fair. And it will make them think about the importance of books, and how wonderful they are." She starts a reading challenge with her father when she is a child to read out loud every night; they end up with a streak of 3,218 nights until she goes off to college. This book is the story of that relationship with her father and how that reading streak impacted her.

What did I like about this book? The passion the author and her father (a retired children's librarian) have for books. Even when he is sick and has no voice, he whispers a few chapters to her. On prom night, he reads to her before her date arrives. And on the last day, they find an empty stairwell in her dorm and end their tradition.

There are some truly humorous parts too, like the "Boy-Haters Club of America" and the chapter where Alice is terrified John F. Kennedy's dead body is in her bottom bunk bed. As someone who spent an entire semester in an English class at college writing papers on the man and conspiracies surrounding his death, I can say with certainty that this is a logical fear. ;)

What did I not like about this book? Yes, the skimmed over parts involving her mother and sister were annoying. Her father's attitude towards her at times was sad. The winter they had to sleep in coats and "typing gloves" hit a little too close to home lol. (Speaking of, it is absolutely freezing in the library right now where I am typing this!!) But none of that was enough to make me knock a star off. Give this book a shot. Make a Reading Promise with your children. Your parents. Your friends. Yourself.

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