Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Chain Letters and Important Books

Letter writing is something I've always done. Thinking of letter writing makes me remember my mother's insistence that I first try-out what I wanted to write on scratch paper, to be more exact, on my  HEMA kladblok. They call it the "memoblok" these days and it's sold out.
Even if you can't read the language, do click on the HEMA link. turn up the volume and watch the company's Online commercial, it's fun.

To get back to letters, you get the point, I've pretty much been a correspondent all my life. From the early thank-you notes to an aunt who gifted me with a box of crayons and a new sketchpad with real white drawing paper, up to missives I send by email these days.

The first time I moved abroad was as an adolescent, as I followed my post-doc spouse to  Los Angeles. Back then  I wrote weekly letters to my mom and she wrote back pronto. The year I lived in L.A. as a a single adult, I wrote to about 40 people back home who wanted to be kept abreast of my adventures. Of those maybe three wrote back. My mother for sure (we wrote each other every few weeks), and perhaps a friend or two. Even although I would have liked to receive more letters in return, and had my ears perked to hear the mailman arrive, I never liked chain letters. Perhaps because of the threats that often accompanies such writing. That is, I tend to read the promises to get rich fast, as threats of what may happen if I don't do what's suggested. Send this letter to ten of your friends. You'll start receiving dollar bills in the mail becomes:  

If you don't do it, and you walk underneath a ladder the painter will inadvertently drop a paint bucket on your head. Up side down. Or, you'll find out too late there's no toilet paper left in the honey bucket. You are on your own. Or, you're out of sugar and the neighbor isn't home. Your cake will self-destruct in ten minutes.

To state that I don't like chain letters is an understatement, I dare say I don't do chain letters.
That is, until now. A few days back I received a request on FaceBook from my Dialogue2010 friend in Prague Sezin Koehler, I have to admit, at first all I saw scanning her request was "15 friends", that was enough to scare me off. But then our Dialogue2010 partner Anastasia Ashman in Istanbul who'd been one of Sezin's addressees included me in the 15 friends she addressed and seeing the list of her books, my eye catching authors whose work I hadn't read, something clicked. This is how the message read:

List fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. Don't take too long to think about it. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note.) Do yours before you read anyone else's!

The only threat involved in this chain —reaction— I'd like to call it, is that you start thinking and writing about the books that made an impression on you so profound that you still remember them, their drift, the time you read them, what you were eating while you read, how heavy the paper was, what the book smelled like, where you got it, at the library, from the book store, from a relative, or a friend, found in a hotel lobby, on the bus, at a garage sale.

Care to share a book or two, or fifteen? Send me a note, post a comment, a tiny letter, I love hearing from you!

If you start with the first decade of your life, which children's book made the greatest impression on you as a child reader?

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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