Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Perils of Reading!

ALABloggingIn the library world, there are individuals who we consider “rock stars” of the profession. One such “rock star” is a petite librarian named Nancy Pearl. Mrs. Pearl is the model for the librarian action figure, “with the amazing push-button shushing action.” In person, she looks exactly like the Barbie size doll, complete with loafers and glasses.

At a recent conference, I was lucky enough to hear her speak on reading. She surprised us by giving three perils of reading. Yes, my friends, there are three dangers that occur to people who read too much. And, you thought reading was all good.

First peril occurs when one encounters vocabulary he may not know how to pronounce. She admitted for years she pronounced misled as missile-d. Other examples include the words awry and segue. I myself tried to use segway in an article. The spell-check underlined it quick, thus I used transition instead. It wasn’t until writing this that the light bulb came on.

Second peril occurs when one is too lazy to define a word so they surmise the meaning from context. Pearl recalled her younger days spent reading the Anne of Green Gables series. At her tender age, the dying of little Ruby was extremely traumatic, for she couldn’t figure out who or what ate her or how she ate herself. You see little Ruby died of “consumption.”

The last peril is the most dangerous of all. It occurs when one confuses stories they have read with their actual life. It happened to Pearl a few months earlier. While on the phone with her daughter, she started telling her about a yellow prom dress she wore to the dance. She went into elaborate detail recounting the high collar, lace arms, and fancy petticoat. As she continued describing her date, Mike, he daughter stopped her. “Mom, you didn’t go to the prom!” With worry in her voice, she told her mom she sounded like a chapter in Double Date by Rosamond Du Jardin.

Aagh! This is my fate for sure. I can see myself telling tales to the nursing home staff and them thinking, “Ah, she just read it in a book.” How will they know the real me from the written me? I really skipped a Starduster on the calm waters of Old Hickory Lake thanks to Michael Torraca. I didn’t really land a DC3 in the mountains during icing conditions with only car lights as my guide thanks to Ernest K. Ganns. Such is life, and such is life in books.