The Joy of Reading

Last week, for my birthday, my husband gave me the most delightful book.  I’d picked up Schott’s Miscellany in the bookstore several times, but couldn’t rationalize purchasing it for myself, so Rob bought me the Food and Drink edition as a gift.  I put it my by bedside, intending to read it for a few minutes each night, but I find myself venturing up for an hour at a time throughout the day, enjoying the fascinating and obscure bits of trivia.  There’s no plot to speak of, and the short articles are arranged in no particular order, but the writing is engaging and the characters quite colorful.  A few recent entries:

  • Leviticus 11, the passage that talks about ancient Jewish dietary laws – in the KJV, of course!

  • A list of synonyms for “drunk.”  I had heard of sauced, three sheets to the wind, plastered and smashed, but not reeled, rather hightitty, cup-sprung or swiggled.

  • A recipe for Irish Champ: creamy mashed potatoes into which are folded melted butter and chopped spring onions.

  • A witty paragraph titled “Water in idiom.” Again, I had never heard of several of these: “If you have muddied the waters you might seek to pour oil over troubled waters; a true friend will always seek to be a bridge over troubled water.

  • The fantastically complex Loving Cup ritual, complete with guards on either side of the drinker to prevent his being fatally wounded while he partook.

I have to say that I enjoy few things as much as I enjoy reading and learning.  It’s hard for me to understand people who don’t love it.  One of my biggest tasks as an English teacher is to show my students how delightful reading can be: I’m looking forward to the term paper in the spring, when I’ll allow them to select an American author and several works to read for themselves and present to the class.  I hope I can expand some horizons, opening up new genres they’d previously thought dull.  I hope.