Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Momrat's Celebrate Reading Pick: TRINITY by Leon Uris

Today, we welcome Momrat as our featured Guest Blogger for Celebrate Reading Month.

About the Guest Blogger: Momrat is a long-time elementary school teacher and a competitive tagsaler. She enjoys long walks on the beach and things her docter has told her absolutely not to eat, particularly ruffled potato chips. She lives in the middle of the woods with her very useful engineer husband, two smelly dogs, and a monster that lurks in the basement.


Before I start talking about TRINITY by Leon Uris and why it was important to me, I should warn you that I read it a long time ago--it must be almost thirty years ago now, because I was on the plane to see your father [Dadrat] in California. I don't actually remember what happens in it. You know how I'm terrible with details like that. I remember that I really loved it, though. I read all his books. I remember that they take place in Ireland, and that it was a real page-turner. That said, I feel it's ok to talk about this book as being one of the most important I've read, and here's why.

I never considered myself a reader. In fact, I considered myself an anti-reader, from the time I was a kid. Whenever a teacher assigned me something to read, I deliberately resisted it, did what I could to get away with not reading it, or made sure I hated it. I never thought that English was my best subject, and honestly I thought I hated reading in general.

When I first met your father [Dadrat] he was always carefully trying to trick me into realizing I liked to read for pleasure. He'd always feed me lines like "Oh, try this one, it will appeal to you for such-and-such specific reason," and he made sure everything he showed me was short, accessible, and as un-scary as possible. I would roll my eyes and then give it a try for his sake, but I still never thought of myself as a reader. I had the impression still that the "serious" readers were the ones who took on the giant tomes, who enjoyed lugging around fat books, who were able to keep track of complex stories with huge words and many plot lines. I didn't think I was destined to be one of those people.

Then one day I was, as I mentioned, stuck on a long plane ride out to California. Not being a reader, I hadn't brought anything to read. But I did get bored--it's a long flight--and I happened to look in the pouch in front of me. There was a sample copy of TRINITY that someone had stuck in there. I'm not sure if it was handed out by the flight attendents or if someone before me had left it there, but it was one of the promotional editions that only contained the first couple hundred pages. And I thought, what the heck. I didn't have anything else to do. I would probably hate it--I'd seen the full version of the book and knew it was one of those huge tomes that only the "serious" readers would dare approach--but it wasn't like I had anything to lose but a couple hours of my time, which I was going to lose anyway.

You know what? I read that thing cover to cover. I could not stop turning those pages. And then when I got off the plane, I went to a bookstore and bought the whole thing.

Even though I don't remember the details of the plots of his books, Leon Uris helped me realize something about myself. He helped me realize that I was a good enough reader to make it through just about anything. I know it sounds silly now in retrospect, but I had grown up thinking I wasn't the kind of person who would ever be a reader, you know, I guess you might say an intellectual. Leon Uris made it clear to me that that distinction was in my mind, and that I actually could be--and was--a serious reader.

Now, as you know, I read all the time. I read to you every night before you went to bed for years. I read to myself every night before bed, and I read all kinds of books of all kinds of lengths. One of my recent favorites, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL by Susannah Clarke, is a real humdinger of a tome. And you made me read SOUND & THE FURY, which you blogged about yesterday, and I enjoyed that too. Reading books I loved with my kids at school is my favorite part of my job. I love seeing the looks on their faces as they get caught up in the story I'm reading to them, and seeing what it looks like when they realize they are readers, too. But reading Uris was my breakthrough. He helped me have confidence in myself as a reader.

(this post was dictated but not read; MR/mr)

18 comments:

Bernita said...

Momrat, I love you.

Lisa said...

I love Momrat too! I think Leon Uris was the first "grown up" author that I read when I was a kid. I don't remember how I started reading EXODUS, but I do remember lugging that thing around until I was finished with it and then telling everybody who would listen to me how great it was.

JES said...

TRINITY was the only one of his books I ever really wanted to read. Even so... This is shaping up as a disturbing (or at least embarrassing) trend: so far I haven't read anything selected by the Rat family. (One hopes Dadrat will come through with one of those short, accessible, un-scary titles.)

But I did read and love JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL. Perfectly un-Potterlike, despite some superficial reviews I saw at the time.

Momrat's students are very lucky!

Charles Gramlich said...

What a great post. I never read this book, in part, because it was one that many "adults" tried to push on me as being "worth my time." I think I have a copy around here somewhere though so maybe it's time to give it a try.

Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Yay Momrat! That's cool how she learned to love reading. So sad that people get turned off of reading for not getting the right sort of encouragement as kids. Dadrat is to be commended for encouraging reading too!

writtenwyrdd

Hélène Boudreau said...

What a great post. Thanks Momrat!

cindy said...

now we know why moonie is so cool and quirky! she has a bit of momrat in her. i love that momrat's favorite book she can remember not one thing about. hahaha!

jalexissmith said...

very nice!

TUMBLEWEED said...

Three cheers for Momrat! That post actually brought tears to my eyes. Usually we only get to hear about all the nonsense that Momrat does and says. This story helped us to see the true woman behind our lovable rodent friend, Moonrat.

ChrisEldin said...

Wow! Your joy must be so evident to your students!!! I love this post. It's honest and refreshing.

Dadrat talked you into reading. Now Moonrat has to talk you into writing....
;-)

Shanna Swendson said...

I spent my high school years reading and re-reading Leon Uris, and Trinity was one of my favorites. But I may have the weirdest reason for reading that book. That was soon after Remington Steele came on the air, and I was madly in love with Pierce Brosnan. I would seek out books set in Ireland or involving Ireland that I could mentally cast him in so I could have him in my head as I read. Now I don't remember what role he played in my mental version of Trinity, but I did come to love the book on its own terms.

Linda said...

Thanks Momrat - fabu post! Such a pleasure to finally 'meet' you! I lurved Leon Uris when I was younger. TRINITY was great, so was EXODUS, but my fave was QBVII. I think I'll go revisit after I wade through the rest of my TBRs (got 24 here now, just counted). Thanks for the reminder of how much I enjoyed his stuff. Peace, Linda

green_knight said...

It's the kind of post that can melt any writers heart. Momrat, I am glad you have discovered the wonderful world of reading, and thank you for giving something back.

R. A. Mare said...

This is a totally fantastic post.

Ello said...

I so love Momrat!

RedHawk said...

Is the monster that lurks in the basement your brother?

moonrat said...

RedHawk: uh, yes...

RedHawk said...

So we have a monster rat!?