Book lovers talk about books

— Photo by Claire Joannidi

In a continuing series, The MV Times asks book lovers to describe a memorable book that has made an impact, and continues to affect them.

In the beginning was “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.

First, naturally, it made me an environmentalist. My folks, as subscribers to the National Wildlife Federation, received a free copy to induce me to sign up for Ranger Rick Magazine. It worked! (Even as a kindergartener, I appreciated the marketing savvy.)

Second, it taught me reverence. Not only for nature, but for narrative. I read that book so often, I could recite the whole of it aloud by the age of 6. It was my first gospel. Decades later, when I created an altar in my writing room of an ancient Smith-Corona, I wanted to type something, using that typewriter, to evoke my most meaningful encounter with the written word. I found myself typing: “At the far end of town, where the grickle-grass grows…” The first words of the first great book of my life. Grickle-grass is hardly a reverential turn of phrase and yet I get choked up just seeing it in print.

Third, while teaching me this reverence, it also taught me delightful irreverence. It showed me that anything (even environmental disaster!) can be handled with a sense of humor — playful rhymes, silly words, absurd characters. I would rather read “The Lorax” than watch “An Inconvenient Truth.” They preach the same sermon to the same choir, but — sorry, Al — Dr. Seuss leaves me feeling more empowered and motivated. I try (not always successfully, but I do try) to keep that in mind when it comes to expressing myself.

“The Lorax” has helped make me who I am today. This is true of at least three dozen other books, but “The Lorax” has been doing it the longest, so he gets bragging rights.