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I know what Dr. Laga means when he says "Have you ever felt ashamed or secretive about books you like because they are not on an approved reading list?" This concept has affected me throughout my life, starting as early as my primary years. In my home growing up you would see an eclectic assortment of reading material. National Geographic, Pierre Burton, and even magazines, such as one called "Woman". This particular magazine contained an ongoing series of love stories much like, "Harlequin" romance books do for today's readers. Even though the choice of my reading material has changed considerably since then, I still remember fondly, racing home to see if the next installment of "Woman" had arrived. I devoured those stories; even lied to my friends so I could read them, however they remained a secret, well until now that is. It would be high school English where it became quite apparent to me that my choices at that time, would never make the grade so to speak
My choices for reading material at home were primarily what I could find that intrigued me. It therefore stands to reason that I was influenced by the choices my parents made, the values I was taught and any of my social and educational influences. So I can clearly see how my first excursion into the world of literature reveals what I was taught to value and reject, because, the selection of the reading material I chose I kept secret. Knowing they would not make it to the "A-list", like books such as the Nancy Drew series or even the Hardy Boys series. These are only two examples of A-list literature, which are well written and reflect a clear message of what to value and what to reject.
I truly enjoyed reading the selection of books on the "Approved List". However I have to agree with Mr. Eagleson when he says, to paraphrase "the ways in which what we say and believe connects with the society we live in". As a grown woman with children and grandchildren, the concepts discussed throughout this chapter, still reflect in many ways, the choices I make even now. As an example, my granddaughter wanted, the "New Moon" series of books, for Christmas, she received the "Anne of Green Gables" series.
Robert Penn Warren suggests that literature can function therapeutically in my life. It can be a means by which individually, I can immerse myself in the experiences, insights and feelings of another person. I may have similar thoughts and feelings or be truly horrified and totally disagree but I am coerced in a way to take a look at them all. In this particular portion of my essay I am reminded of two wonderful novels I read quite some time ago, one called "My Sister's Keeper" and the other, "The Pact", both by Jodi Picoult. These particular pieces of work were given to me as a gift, by the "Dean of Students" at a private catholic school. When I asked about the book, Nancy offered me, very little information "just read" she said. So when I sat down to read the first book, for some reason, I felt apprehensive, as opposed to my usual I can't wait to read you feeling. But what an extraordinarily gifted, story teller, Jodi turned out to be for me. I was captivated from the beginning. It turned out to be a beautifully written, heartbreakingly honest look at quite a controversial subject, the moral and ethical dilemma of eugenics. As I read, completely captured, I was forced to think, hard, about right and wrong. I found myself experiencing my entire repertoire of emotions. There were times when I laughed, when I cried, and even times that I threw the book down, I was so angry. But in the end the book for me, was compelling, thought-provoking, with characters I whole-heartedly embraced.
In conclusion, "Literature", I believe, appears in many forms. It could be a magazine article I've read, a book from the best sellers list, a recommendation of a good friend, or an A-list selection such as Romeo and Juliet. In my opinion, literature is any written material, I find, to be unique, imaginative, and an exciting means of gaining knowledge in all its forms. It can provide me a glimpse into other lives and cultures or simply transport me for a time.