Reading for Fun

by Mary Shipp Bartlett

Remember the first book you ever read—the one you chose for yourself? Mine was Freddy the Detective, one of the enchanting Freddy the Pig stories, written by Walter Brooks from 1927 to 1958. I soon checked out as many as I could find from the local library. The witty language and superb character development introduced me to a world of playful imagination I could explore any time of the day. That these books were also educational and built vocabulary was lost on me at the time.

My taste in reading has expanded since then (one might hope) and so too my idea of what makes a fun read. Usually it is a piece of writing that takes me away from everyday life and either educates me or makes me laugh—and often both. Then, there’s the other kind of writing, the kind that insults your intelligence. We’ve all read books that we want to throw across the room in disgust, and sometimes we do. It feels good to give the offender a heave, especially when you think of all the good books out there you could have been reading instead.

While I was obsessed with Freddy, my sister the English teacher, the most avid reader I know, was truly bereft as a child to think that she might one day have read all the books in the world and be left with nothing to entrance her. This seems unlikely to happen, but when she tells me she rereads Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina every year, and Stegner’s Angle of Repose every two or three, I start to worry. Maybe she’s getting close to reading everything.

Scripps College has, from its beginning, emphasized good writing as important to whatever role an alumna chooses in life. No wonder we have so many successful writers in a wide range of fields. We will continue to showcase our outstanding writers in this magazine in the months ahead and have a seemingly unlimited supply to choose from. My sister shouldn’t be concerned.

Happy reading.