16 November 2009

Book Club

The title of this post has a dual meaning. First, it refers to our son's interest in books, which is growing by the day, and which pleases us greatly. Second, it refers to the fact that he has, on more than one occasion, wielded a book like a blunt instrument, such as a truncheon, actually hit me in the face with a book, in his exuberant attempt to get me to read it. "Buh buh," he intones, over and over, as he shoves the book (dare I say, violently) in my direction. I should do just that, I think sometimes. Read it. To myself. Silently. And see what happens.

Probably yet another book to the face. The first rule of Book Club is . . .

Seriously, when did reading become a full-contact sport? You should see some of this kid's books. They've been completely ravaged. Thrown, torn, stepped on, chewed. My wife and I always wanted our son to be a quiet, bookish lad. This is not exactly what we had in mind.

I'm sure most new parents experience something similar, but I'm consistently torn between wanting my son to remain this wee, miniature creature forever and for him to get bigger, so that I can share more books with him, so he can read them on his own, and then we can discuss them. To introduce him to the classics. His first taste of Shel Silverstein. The adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson and Conan Doyle's tales of Sherlock Holmes. But then as my eyes scan the book shelf, my mind begins to wander, on into the future. When will he read Catch-22? Will he enjoy it? Will it have a similar profound effect on him, as it did on me?

What would he think of Everything Is Illuminated? A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? Or the hilarious world of Ignatius P. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces? How young is too young to expose him to the brilliant, savage words of Hunter S. Thompson? It wasn't until college that I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and it changed my life. Perhaps the question I should be asking is, when will his mother allow me to share such a thing with him?

For now, I'll have to remain content with the simple, delightful, toddler-oriented tomes on his shelf. The ones he makes me read so many times I no longer need to look at the pages, that I have actually committed to memory, verbatim, the way I once knew the lyrics to pretty much every Beastie Boys song. Instead, today, I know all the words to Goodnight Moon and Hippos Go Berserk! and There's a Wocket In My Pocket! And I will cherish those moments that he sits in my lap, sleepy and content, hearing his favorite story for the hundredth time and I will hope that this love of books will grow and his explorations will continue and maybe someday, he'll introduce me to some of his own favorites. Authors who haven't yet written a word, who will take the world by storm someday, the way I hope my son will.

But not too soon.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know when is appropriate for Hunter Thompson, but I'll say that my father had me reading - and discussing - Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" and Whitley Streiber's "Communion" by the time I was eleven. I think you're the best judge for when he's ready...