The many faces of a little reader

He's not a prodigy. He can't read this book yet.  But he loves books and loves to pretend that he's reading them. It's a good start. And he especially loves this one. He's named after a character in it.

Charles Wallace. 

I won’t be reading my novel to my children. For a damn good reason.

My son asked me to read my novel, Unexpectedly, Milo, to him.

"Too long," I told him. "No pictures. Let’s find something else."

It also has an awkward and explicit sex scene in it (which I didn't bother to mention), so I think he'll be reading that one on his own some day.


Resolutions that didn’t make the 2013 list

In deciding upon this year’s New Year’s resolution, several were discarded for a variety of reasons. Among them were the following:

Set a new personal best in golf.

I may have excluded this from my list simply because I am afraid that it is not possible. My lowest score for nine holes is a 46, and my lowest score for 18 holes is 95. Without lessons or a dramatic increase in the amount of playing time, I just don’t see myself improving these scores without an enormous amount of luck.  

Launch a podcast related to teaching.

I already plan on launching a podcast related to writing in 2013, so my idea of bringing three teachers (my wife, my friend and me) together to discuss education and answer questions of parents, students and fellow teachers might turn out to be fairly simple once I learned about the process, but it may not. Even if I manage to streamline the technical aspects of the process, it will still take time to record. As a result, I thought that one podcast this year would be more than enough. If the second manages to get off the ground, it will be a bonus.

Deliver a TED Talk.

While the idea of delivering a TED Talk remains something that I would like to pursue in 2013, the amount of content that I already plan on producing is so large that I felt that some ideas had to be left off the list. A TED Talk was one of them. 

Write and perform a 5-10 minute standup comedy set in 2013.

I would like to attempt standup comedy someday, but once again, the amount of writing, storytelling and podcasting that I have planned for 2013 is already more than enough.

Launch a proposed business venture with a close friend.

A friend and I have a possible business idea on the drawing board that we hope to launch in 2013, and we are already in discussions about it, but it may take more than a year to accomplish, so I have left it off the list for now. 

Read a specific number of books in 2013.

Readers suggest this resolution to me every year. Three years ago I established the goal of reading a dozen books published within the same calendar year (and achieved the goal fairly easily), but that goal was set in order to force me to read more current material.

My attitude towards overall reading has always remained the same:

Read as often as possible in 2013. The number of books doesn’t matter if I am reading as much as I can. Therefore no resolution is needed.

Make one mortgage payment from poker profits.

I paid for our honeymoon with poker profits, and I’ve always wanted to make at least one mortgage payment via poker, but the amount of playing that I do today is limited because of my writing schedule. Also, the online poker environment became decidedly more challenging with the US restrictions on online gambling in 2010. While I am fairly certain that I could earn enough money via poker to make at least one mortgage payment if I dedicated time to the endeavor, it turns out that writing is simply more profitable.

Why didn’t anyone tell me that all these women were have sex in front of me?

I’m not sure which part of this column is more stupid:


The part where L.G. from Phoenix asks if it is appropriate for her sister to be reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY in front of their father (while clearly taking a passive-aggressive swipe at her sibling in the process)… 

… or the part where The Boston Globe’s Robin Abraham asserts in her Miss Conduct column that reading this book in public equates to a public sex act.

Fifty shades of gross! Your poor father was probably only feigning unconsciousness out of embarrassment.

Reading in public is a fine, improving act. As a city dweller, I have always enjoyed the way public reading creates a barrier — yet a permeable one — between the individual and the people surrounding him or her. You have a sense of fellow feeling with readers, don’t you? Oh, look, that guy over there likes the New Yorker, too. Commuters catching up on the newspapers, students plowing through dense academic tomes, “escape” readers with their lurid science fiction or crime paperbacks . . . reading in public gives people a little window into your mind.

And therein lies the, er, rub. The purpose of Fifty Shades of Grey is to arouse the reader, which means that reading it in public is about as appropriate as feeling yourself up in the coffee shop. You are forcing other people to witness a sexual act.

There’s so much wrong with this response (and there’s more in the column if you’d like to see her complete answer), the stupidest being:

“Reading in public is a fine, improving act.”

What the hell does that mean? Improving? Is this a column written for nineteenth century girls attending finishing school? Has Abraham declared herself the arbitrator of all public activities? Is it her role to determine which activities are “fine and improving” and which are less so?  

“A fine, improving act?”

Could she sound more pretentious?

And did you notice the way she matches readers to their choice of books?

She is a New Yorker fan, of course.

Students read “dense academic tomes” as if they’ve stepped right out of a Harry Potter film onto the bus. No Kindles or Nooks or iPads for these young people. Dusty, intellectual books for them. 

“Escape” readers read “lurid science fiction and crime paperbacks,” because apparently everything written in these two genres is considered lurid in Abraham’s mind. 

And did you notice her use of quotation marks around the word escape? What’s the point? It’s almost as if Abraham cannot deign to touch the concept of an escape reader without first bracketing the term inside the protective confines of the quotation mark.

God I hate this women.

But of all the stupidity contained within her response, this is the worst:

“The purpose of Fifty Shades of Grey is to arouse the reader, which means that reading it in public is about as appropriate as feeling yourself up in the coffee shop.”

Is she serious? I have yet to read FIFTY SHAES OF GREY, but I am having a difficult time envisioning the reading of this book as a sexual act. 

My mother-in-law read the book on her Nook, which means she could’ve been reading it in my presence. I have no way of knowing for sure. 

Am I to believe that my mother-in-law may have been engaging in a sexual act in my presence?

In fact, I have seen dozens of women reading this book in public over the last three months. Am I to believe that each of these women were engaging in an act akin to masturbating in a coffee shop? If so, I wish someone would have told me about this sooner. I would have paid closer attention to these deviants.

Hell, maybe I should’ve called the authorities.

A woman was reading the book on the treadmill beside me last week. I had no idea how shocked or embarrassed I was supposed to feel. No one warned me. Little did I know what this sexual deviant was doing beneath the veneer of a high impact cardio workout.

I feel dirty just thinking about it.

And slightly stupider for reading this ridiculous column.