I keep a memory box. Just one box that houses mementos from the most important events in my life. The proms I attended, movie ticket stubs from my first date, newspaper clippings about my wedding, but my most treasured memento is my favorite childhood book, 101 Dalmations. I don’t know why I loved this book so much. I didn’t analyze it, I didn’t care about the sentence structure, the use of metaphor and simile, whether it was plot-driven or character-driven, I guess I just loved the story.
Other favorites of mine were Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller and Black Beauty. The emotional response these books elicited was what made reading worth the time and effort. Even today, when I am completely involved in a book, I find I never want to read the last chapter. It saddens me to say goodbye to the people in the story, as if they were now close and personal friends.
It was puzzling to me, then, that I hated high school English classes. Somehow, analyzing the books I was reading sucked all the joy out of reading them. I trudged my way through Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights, Les Miserable, and Shakespeare? Seriously?
As an adult, I felt compelled to give these classics another try. I read Moby Dick first and then Wuthering Heights and I now count these book amongst my favorites. Although I did have to read Moby Dick three times before fully appreciating everything this novel had to offer. Since then I have read and enjoyed many of the classics, but I have continued to avoid Shakespeare, finding his works just too intimidating.
Then last night, I went to see the King’s Speech. A fabulous movie, by the way, cast perfectly, but what stayed with me as I walked out of the movie theatre was the King’s speech therapist’s love for Shakespeare. I enjoyed how much he loved the words themselves and I thought perhaps its time to give him another try.
I have dedicated this year to challenging myself to move outside of my comfort zone, so with the help of my friend Kim, an English teacher and Ph.D., I am finally tackling Shakespeare hoping that I can learn to appreciate him, and who knows, perhaps add his works to my list of favorites.