A Life Well-Shared

By Traci S. Sanders

My dad and I shared many things; yet, I only recently learned that the way we read was one of them. I discovered this while sitting with family friends who asked me what I was reading. Pulling my book out of my purse, with turned-down corners marking nearly every page, they laughed. “Well…who did we know who did this?” Isn’t it funny what we inherit from our parents? A love of reading? Definitely. Folding pages that matter to us? Really?! Maybe I noticed it as a child; maybe I saw it as an adult; or maybe in some mysterious way, it is just how we were wired. Irrespective, I like to think that every time I open a book, he is right there next to me, smiling (or more accurately, smirking) with the turn of every slightly skewed page…

This one’s for you dad…

A Dog-Eared Life

I used to think that dog-eared pages – those little folded triangles – were simply place holders; an end to the day’s reading and a marker for the next.

I don’t think that anymore.

For most of my adult reading life, I have turned down pages in nearly every book; I have also turned them up. And I never unfold them. They are a visual symbol of all that I have learned.

It does not matter whether the spine binds fiction or nonfiction, poems or novels, because it is what is shared and how that makes me pause and reflect. At times, It is as if the words turn a light on inside myself, illuminating that which was previously unseen; other times, it is the sharing of knowledge or ideas previously unknown that shift my perception and, thus, my understanding.

And so I dog-ear these pages that enrich my life. The fragments of language that transform me; changing my world through the power of words. 

If my dad was here, I would ask him why he dog-eared the pages of a book. I think, he would, first, say something funny, then he would ask me a question about what he just read, and then he would tell me why. But I like to think – knowing how much he loved to learn – that he did it for a similar reason; because he had an overwhelming curiosity satiated – in part – by reading – and folding – as many, as often, and as varied a collection as time allowed. I have these books now – the ones that really mattered to him. I’ve read some and started others. They all look very similar to mine, although he did use yellow highlighter to mark certain passages (something, after grad school, I loathe to do). Other than that, we were pretty similar. Sometimes, I try to figure out just why a certain page is turned down. And while I often don’t know, it does get me to read it. And maybe that was one of his reasons all along. Maybe it is one of mine as well. 

And so…As you open a book to read over the holidays, take a moment and wonder: who in my life am I like when I read? There is a story in there just waiting to be told.


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