Reading Two Each Other. What Is High-Brow?

When I was a child, back in the days when my brother and I shared a room, my parents, especially my mother would read to us. My dad did too, but at that age, mom was the stay-at-home, while dad was away at work all hours. Only later, when we were teenagers, did that role reverse, but by then your parents reading to you is super no bueno.

I loved it when my mother would read to us. She passionately believes in reading. This is a good thing since she is a language arts teacher...imagine if she lacked that zeal. I come from reading stock. I'm not voracious, but I enjoy books. She'd curl up with us, although the bunk bed was often asking a bit too much of the girl, and carry us along into imagination on the back of her voice. My brother and I could read. We'd been able to since well before kindergarten. But mom enjoyed the experience of shared reading, and bestowed that appreciation on my brother and me.

That was where I really got into two of my all-time favourite books: James and the Giant Peach and The Fattypuffs and Thinnifers. We ride the Great Glass Elevator and Wrinkle Time. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, as just about anything Judy Blume felt like wiping her nose with, was enjoyment and life-applicable.

Alright already! I liked it.

Well, my boyfriend was recently looking for something new to read. Despite his certifiable "voraciousness" for reading and amazing pace (I once dropped out of a speed reading class to enjoy the fleeting Wisconsin summer), I knew that there were still books under our roof that he had not read. These are, as he puts it, "too high-brow" for him to read...MY books. You'd think I was this amazingly intelligent, literate person, but no.

I have developed a taste in literature that finds very little comraderie in most circles today, especially in my age demographic. Rarely do I like many things written in the past 30 years. I tend to like Victorian literature, and anything else dark and nihilistic written since. Against the better and more perspicacious observations of those about me, I do NOT like the Beats.

Trash novels are just that, although I am currently reading a despicably trashy and completely made-up narrative biography of Omar Khayyam, written in the early thirties, and complete with all the attitudes of the day. An African slave is even referred to by the pronoun "it." Alright...I tend to the extremes.

If my literary taste (or lack thereof) was a novel itself, the dust jacket would be littered with the following quotes. My boyfriend once told me years back, "You're the only 21-year-old I know who reads George Bernard Shaw for kicks." A friend back in Chicago offered thanks for giving him the opportunity "to drop in casual conversation the fact that I know someone who 'enjoys the obscure Dickens'."

I can't help it. I have no real intention of reading any Steele, King or that guy who's name I forget but always writes about lawyers and thrillers. Give me Kobo Abe instead. I like reading Orwell. I LOVE sitting for a couple months with a good Dickens (Hey! He's long-winded and I have a short attention span). Kafka is always pleasant. I could rattle off titles and authors, but the unorthodoxy should be clear.

Anyways, I don't remember who brought it up, but a friend of mine and I were chatting over the romantic and potentially sensual aspects of couples reading to each other. She asked if my boyfriend and I did.

Her response to my response was that it would make a great piece. Hence...

We read in bed. We both read side by side. He takes it one step further and pretty much reads throughout the day as well. I read in bed at night, and it shuts off the "reality-sensitive" portion of my brain long enough to drift off to sleep.

I don't really remember how much we tried. I do remember climbing into bed with him, and for a while I was reading portions of David Sedaris stories to him. We'd lay in bed a giggle. Then, he'd start snoring, and my mouth would go dry.

"Honey, would you like me to read some more to us tonight."


I know he finds my voice soothing. Why, I don't, but I stopped questioning why he loves me in favour of soaking it up while it's there.

However, the act of reading out loud actually woke me up. I did not find myself drifting off to Sandmanland when reading aloud in bed.

Occassionally, we still read random passages to one another. I'm currently reading a bunch of Erma Bombeck and inflict it upon him. He's reading one of him many books on the origin of the conscience blah blah something involving the bicameral mind or the nature of cultural something or other in post-Christ society. MY taste in literature is too high brow!

He'll pull off a line from one of his boooks. I fling a line of Erma Bombeck (or for real fun, Lytton Strachey). Thus it becomes a little battle across the bed. He hits me with a paragraph about an alternative sociological view on Christ feeding the masses, and I respond with an anecdote about being a two car family. He smacks my slowly drifting consciousness with a passage on the emergence of the subconscious in ancient Greeks and its impact on modern democracy. I retaliate with a particularly witty late 19th Century put-down directed at an emerging Catholic Cardinal.

Romance. Oh yeah. Sensual? You bet.

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