Thursday, 21 April 2016

Thankful Thursday - A Teacher and a Book

I hated reading as a kid. My mother tried everything to get me to like to read, but I didn't really enjoy it. I read the Sweet Valley Books because my friends did but it was a chore.  Don't get me wrong, I loved books, I just liked them being read to me. I know I was a painfully slow reader, but I don't think I had a reading disorder (unlike the spelling disorder I still live with). I am not sure why I disliked it.

Fast forward to age 17. I was in grade 12 English. (At this time in Ontario there was a grade 13 which was known as OAC, so I still had one year of high school to get through - but because I was desperate to run away from home  highly motivated, I fast-tracked and did the 5 years in 4 - which just gave me more years in post secondary education, but more about all of that another time).

My grade 12 English class was taught my Mrs. Nancy Harvey. She was the head of the English department. She was (and likely still is) a very earthy person. She was my favourite teacher of all my years of school, even though I did roll my eyes repeatedly when she would take us to the ravine to look for fairies. She was a wonderful, compassionate, loving person. She saw the best in everyone and often the potential that no one else (including the teen) saw.

Every year on the reading list she put one book that had been banned. In grade 12, that book, which was the magical book that opened the world of reading to me, was Canadian author Timothy Findley's The Wars.
My copy

Anyone who has read this book (or most of Findley's work, which I have read and own it all), would be surprised that reserved, can't handle gross things me, would fall in love with a book, an author and reading because of The Wars. The book is probably an honest look at a 19 year old sent to WWI. It is brutal, graphic and yet beautiful. I have read it more times than I can count. (I can say the same about several of Findley's work - my favourites being Not Wanted on the Voyage and The Butterfly Plague). I think I feel in love with this and Findley's work, because I see an honesty in this writing. It is only his last book (which is my least favourite, but maybe a nice way to end his life and writing life) that has anything that can be described as a happy ending. As a pessimist  realist, I am rarely satisfied with the happy ending. Life isn't like that. Life can be horrible and trying with moments of beauty. That is what I see in The Wars and Timothy Findley.

Now I read every night before bed. I read 2-3 books per month. Not bad for the girl who hated it.

Today I am thankful for a wonderful, loving teacher, who opened the pages of hundreds of books to me. Thank you Mrs. Harvey!

My small collection of books - most of what I read I donate. Most of the top shelf is Findley's complete works.


  1. I also enjoy reading and used to read about 70 books a year until 4 years ago when we got 2 puppies. Now I'm down to 12 a year if I'm lucky!


  2. So glad you found the wonderful world of reading! My Mom (an English teacher) got us all interested in reading very early in life. My love continues today, where you can find me "reading" an audiobook while traveling and walking, and reading an actual book (or kindle) before bed. I enjoy everything from Janet Evanovich to my favorite author, Stephen King!