My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a gem. Something that any reader will hold close to their heart. The essays are translated from the original French work by the educator Daniel Pennac. The book is full of amazing quotes. Some of my favorites:
“Time to read is always time stolen. Stolen from what? From the tyranny of living.”
“By making time to read, like making time to love, we expand our time for living.”
I particularly loved Part 3 – “The Gift of Reading” – where he describes a classroom of high school students – the stereotypes of “the loner”, “the prep”, “the goth”, etc. and how when the teacher [him] decides to read aloud to them for the entire class. It is his experiment to get them hooked. He chooses Süskind’s Perfume with its lively descriptions, and the teens, all of them, instantly become hooked.
The last few essays are also great, where he discusses the “Rights of the Reader” (the book is named after this series of essays). He outlines 10 Rights that each reader inherently possesses. He goes on to write short essays about all of them:
1 – The right not to read.
2 – The right to skip.
3 – The right not to finish a book.
4 – The right to read it again.
5 – The right to read anything.
6 – The right to mistake a book for real life.
7 – The right to read anywhere.
8 – The right to dip in.
9 – The right to read aloud.
10 – The right to be quiet.
A perfect book for a literature class – or a continuing education course. I highly recommend it.
There is a sense of liberty and empowerment when a teacher writes a list like this. As an avid reader, I have exercised my *right* to each of these 10 things, and I imagine that you have too.
The right NOT to read? Well, I guess that could be the few books that I sat out on for my old book club. Things that just didn’t float my boat, so I opted out. The right to skip? I exercise this one ALL the time. Of course, once a text comes to me in book form, I have to believe that dozens of eyes have read the same thing I am reading – so why does it often feel like everyone forgot their red editorial marker? So yeah, I totally skip. The right to NOT finish a book? I usually give books a 50 page limit. If it has come highly recommended by a trusted friend, maybe 100 pages… I just abandoned a book the other day. Got through Part I with relative ease, and then what? Part II was a mess. Close cover. No more. I have plenty of other things to keep my engaged. The right to read it again? I will admit that I don’t exercise this one that much. I rarely read a book twice (children’s books read aloud to my nieces don’t count!) but I understand why people do it. I have often contemplated reading a beloved series again (most recently Harry Potter and The Hunger Games), but I haven’t done it yet.
The right to read anything? I have a long history of reading cereal boxes and shampoo bottles and ingredient lists and technical instructions just because … just this morning I read the how-to instructions on my new can opener. The right to mistake a book for real life? I often think that if a fictional character was REAL, we would be great friends. Or I get that feeling that an author might be speaking to me directly, so I think that counts! The right to read anywhere? ha – yeah, I told you I read shampoo bottles, so you can figure out WHERE I was while doing that. The right to dip in? Tied to the right to skip… dip in and read one essay, and yep, that’s all the fix I need. The right to read aloud? When something has to be shared, you have to read it aloud. I sometimes whisper the words to myself though, as I am reading along. Or reading aloud for emphasis and memorization. The right to be quiet? Sometimes you read something so moving that you simply have nothing to say. That’s okay too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these – please share your experiences!